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‘Blame It on the Bellboy’

By John F. Kelly
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 06, 1992

 


Director:
Mark Herman
Cast:
Dudley Moore;
Bryan Brown;
Richard Griffiths;
Andreas Katsulas;
Patsy Kensit;
Alison Steadman;
Penelope Wilton;
Bronson Pinchot
PG-13
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent


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Sex and death and real estate: Wrap them all together and what do you get? A particularly messy divorce or "Blame It on the Bellboy," a wonderful melange of mistaken identities and triple entendres.

Bronson Pinchot is the bellboy in question, a bumbling baggage carrier at a Venice hotel who misdirects envelopes addressed to three guests. The three men have similar names -- Orton, Horton and Lawton -- but dissimilar missions. One is looking to buy real estate, another to have a dirty weekend and the third to knock off a mobster.

The three dutifully trudge off at criss-cross purposes. Dudley Moore, dispatched by his overbearing boss to inspect and purchase a villa, walks straight to the mafia don's house, eager to plop down cash for it. Richard Griffiths can't believe his luck when his "Medi-Date" turns out to be slinky real estate agent Patsy Kensit. And hitman Bryan Brown trains his crosshairs on the mousey, Mickey Spillane-reading, lonely-heart Penelope Wilton (who, truth be told, would probably be better off getting shot than ending up in the sack with the grossly rotund Griffiths).

Writer/director Mark Herman does a nice job of setting up the misadventure and then sitting back and letting it play itself out. He cuts quickly among the three as Orton/Horton/Lawton dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes. You're sure it has to work out somehow but until the end you're not exactly sure just what that how is going to be.

As in "Beverly Hills Cop" and TV's "Perfect Strangers," bellhop Pinchot doesn't really do any identifiable accent. It certainly isn't Italian, but then it doesn't have to be. He's basically a plot cog, a device for setting the madcap machinations in motion. The whingeing Moore starts out only barely heveled and gets progressively disheveled as the movie goes on. He seems incapable of finding a pair of pants short enough for him so he shuffles his way through the alleys of Venice, dragging his cuffs behind him, the mafia on his trail.

The red-faced Griffiths (the kidnapped energy expert in "The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear") has the most fun, getting to misinterpret that great British come-on line "Would you like to come upstairs" and using such Anglo sex euphemisms as "a bit of rumpy pumpy" and "slap and tickle," which given his bulk might better be called "slap and squish."

One of "Bellboy's" producers was also behind "A Fish Called Wanda." This film doesn't have "Wanda's" wickedly subversive humor. It's a little gentler, closer to "What's Up, Doc?," but without Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal screaming at each other.

And Venice? Well, Venice looks lovely. It seems to wear a bemused look as these idiotic Englishmen stumble about its picturesque streets and canals.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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