Ernest, a lovable loser who works as a summer camp handyman and dreams of becoming a guidance councilor, must find a way to inspire a group of juvenile delinquents as well as stop a shady strip mining company from closing the camp.
When his parents have to go out of town, Dennis stays with Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. The little menace is driving Mr. Wilson crazy, but Dennis is just trying to be helpful. Even to the thief who's arrived in town.
Jed Clampett and kin move from Arkansas to Beverly Hills, when he becomes a billionaire, after an oil strike. The country folk are very naive with regard to life in the big city, so when Jed starts a search for a new wife, there are inevitably plenty of takers and con artists ready to make a fast buck.Written by
When Miss Hathaway goes to see the private agent, his name plate on the desk disappears then reappears in between shots of Hathaway and Jones. See more »
Reverend, do you think cousin Bill's gonna be too busy to make it to the wedding?
[establishing shot of the White House]
Hillary, where did I put that invitation?
See more »
As a boy in the deep south in the 1960s I enjoyed the line-up of rural television shows. Places and people like those in Andy Griffith and the Hillbillies were not foreign to me. I also enjoyed the shows that were more midwestern, such as "Petticoat Junction" and, especially, the funniest show ever, "Green Acres". When all these shows were axed, television lost the gentle edge it maintained for most of the country and pandered to city slickers who'd never seen a tree. In the north and in cities, where most executives lived, may have been epitomized by the brash crowd of Archie Bunker and Maude, but the new urban, rabid charicatures elbowed out of their way the last fully centered and genuinely content television character, Jed Clampett (Andy Griffith already having abandoned Mayberry).
"The Beverly Hillbillies" is a show often misunderstood. It did not consist of a single joke, but of two; and it played variations on those themes for nearly ten years, like a decade-long fugue. First, the obvious joke, that the hillbillies, not having had access to cultural changes, could not identify anything "modern" and often put the most egregious misconstructions on everything they found in the city. The other joke, and the better one for we country folk, was the fact that, though they didn't know what anything was, they had a wealth of common sense that the city slickers lacked. Jed Clampett was the voice of reason and sensibility, a solid citizen, respectful and religious. The Hillbillies were not "trash". Jed always wore what he called his best suit; the fact that it was bedraggled was not his fault, it was simply the best he could afford before striking oil. He was a gentleman, the epitome of what Americans had always seen as their earliest pioneer heroes. Coming into millions did not change him. He had no conception of the money he possessed and had no greed for it. He knew himself, and remained himself, both modest and proud, like so many southerners I knew, and, most of all, balanced. Although psychologists were often sicced on the Clampetts, Jed never had need of one. It was the psychologists, unable to comprehend someone so perfectly balanced, who came off as crazy.
The rest of the clan were respectful and pious in their own way. Granny was as likely to sing hymns as to fill someone's backside with buckshot. She was like many self-sufficient southern women I knew: women who had never heard of feminism, but who managed to look after themselves and were either self-sufficient or kept up with their menfolk with more calm, more industry, and better sense than Mary Richards trying to worm her fragile way into a man's world. Just because someone had time-tested values did not mean they fit into some feminist dystopian stereotype. Strong, steady, self-supporting women were common where I grew up.
The movie misunderstands the characters, and the show. The Clampetts in the series were not stupid . . . oh, yes, Jethro Bodine was stupid, and he had no excuse because he had been to school through the sixth grade (it may perhaps have been a subtle satire on education vs. common sense). Diedrich Bader plays Jethro with aplomb, not as husky as Max Baer but dense and likeable. Linda Carlson, mimicking Bea Benaderet, comes off quite well as Pearl Bodine. His character might well have represented the pitiful state of American elementary education.
Apart from the Bodines, everything starts to unravel. Chloris Leachman is a dead ringer for the wonderful Irene Ryan, the funniest woman ever on television, but lacks Ryan's sincerity. Playboy model Erika Eleniak manages to keep her clothes on for a suitable Elly Mae. The late Jim Varney, however, is totally out of place as Jed Clampett. He doesn't come off strong and centered as Buddy Ebsen. He's simply wrong for the part.
Some indications of their respectfulness remains. When Jane Hathaway's briefcase flies open on the street, both billionaire Jed and nephew Jethro rush to help her pick up her spilled papers, something southerns of my era and before would do automatically. There are other indications that the Clampetts (and Jethro, but not necessarily his social-climbing mother) are kind and decent people. But what should be accentuated was the contrast of good-heartedness and reason in an urban setting of greed and self-serving.
But missed opportunities apart, the humor employed in this movie was often unconscionably coarse, as when Jethro drives into an outhouse with Granny inside; and her subsequent chasing him while hitching up her bloomers.
Rather than relying on silliness and dumb sound effects, directed at people who have the lowest grade of intelligence, the movie should've taken its characters and themes should've been taken seriously. It might've been a solid, perhaps Swiftian, satire, on the rapid-paced, rude, greedy modern world we've boxed ourselves into. Instead, the slower-paced hill folk are as silly as the city folk, perhaps more so. I suppose superior Hollywood types who think of the country as a place to be developed can't comprehend what they've lost in the urban homogenizing and coarsening of the U.S., particularly as an unfortunate by-product of television.
Whatever went through the film-makers' minds, "The Beverly Hillbillies" was a travesty of the show and its characters. Even without reference to the television show, the movie is bad and unfunny. The only possible reason to see it is for nostalgia, and they cannot expect nostalgia to work if they so flagrantly betray their source material.
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