22 November 2003 | fineanimal
The greatest kind of disappointment
As a youngster and lifelong fan of Gilligan's Island, I still recall my excitement when I first learned that Rescue From Gilligan's Island was going to be shown on television. I also remember my profound disappointment when I finally saw the show: it wasn't particularly funny.
Now, some 25 years later, I found myself purchasing this movie on DVD anyway, for two reasons: To enjoy sweet memories of youth when TV humor was simply good fun and didn't even pretend to be anything more, and because it only cost $5.99.
Well, what can I say? I was disappointed again because, again, it wasn't particularly funny. Yet I am still very glad I now own this movie on DVD. How can that be?
For all the abuse Gilligan's Island has taken over the years from "serious" humorists, the fact remains that the show appeals to everyone's desire for real friendship and camaraderie, without all the drama of real life. The original show was just plain fun to watch. And frankly, so is Rescue From Gilligan's Island, despite its many, many flaws.
I know it is anathema to say so, but this movie would have scored much higher if only it had included a laugh track, as did the original TV series. The laugh track itself creates the illusion of camaraderie with an audience, and that was always part of the appeal of Gilligan's Island. So I found myself pretending to hear the original laugh track every time the cast told a joke (i.e., constantly), and lo--the film was much more palatable!
On the bright side, losing the laugh track made me realize just how good these actors really were, and how great an ensemble they comprised. After all, the original cast never heard the roaring laughter the audience heard as the actors playing the castaways fired one asinine line after another between ludicrous slapstick action sequences. Without a laugh track, for example, the actors portraying Russian spies in this movie behaved beyond reproach; they were simply painful to watch. But then again, so was Wrongway Felman, Harold Hecuba, and other visitors to the island, without a laugh track. It is precisely because this ensemble was so good that they managed to score with such silly humor every time in the finished product. That takes talent (and guts, I suspect). For this reason more than anything else, I truly missed Tina Louise as Ginger: no one could adequately replace a member of such a tight ensemble. Kudos to Judith Baldwin for trying, however. Thurston and Lovely Howell are hilarious characters even without the laugh track.
Overall, as another reviewer observed, the value of this film is that it provides a trip down the most pleasant stretch of memory lane. It would be wrong, however, not to mention the unforgivable production of this DVD. The sound is bad, a few jump cuts are embarrassing to watch, and the video has frequent static bars like you would see on an old, worn videotape. Shame on the production company. Shame on you!
Bottom line: If you don't appreciate the Gilligan's Island TV series you will hate this movie with a capital "H", with good reason. But for those of you who get misty just thinking about Gilligan, the Skipper and company, Rescue From Gilligan's Island will help you feel like a kid again for 90 minutes, with good reason. A cast featuring Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Bill Murray and other notable comics simply couldn't even come close to pulling off the feat this underrated ensemble pulled off time and time and time again for years, for no better reason than to make all of us feel good for a half hour each week.