14 September 1999 | Penfold-13
There's a genre of spy thriller which involves Presidents, Prime Ministers and other heads of government, top police and spymasters, an assassin like Carlos the Jackal, and the imminent outbreak of WWIII. Whoops Apocalypse is one of those.
Just as Airplane is a disaster movie.
Not that Whoops Apocalypse is as funny as Airplane - there are too many scenes when the plot advances in a reasonably pointful fashion for that - but there are some inspired spoof scenes. There's a beautiful one when the Navy Officer gets his orders to report to his ship by nightfall - there are reasons why this isn't quite as poignant as the similar scenes in b&w 1942 movies.
Some bits of it may well seem inexplicable unless you remember that it was made in Britain in 1986, with the Falklands War still fairly fresh in people's minds, Di-mania a-booming, and Margaret Thatcher still running the country in demented fashion.
The highlight of the film is Peter Cook's portrayal of Prime Minister Sir Mortimer Chris: a high-powered Sir Bufton Tufton, fearfully right-wing and, as we discover, stark staring bonkers. Loretta Swit plays the US President a la Carol Channing, and a number of others kick in with decent cameos.
I'd like to see it again, to find out whether I got all the jokes the first time round - Airplane must have taken a dozen viewings before I'd spotted some of the really subtle touches. I suspect there is less to discover in this second and third time round, but it's not a bad attempt, overall.