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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Beverly Hillbillies (1993)

The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film: C+



Yet another fun TV series that could have made for a good film but was beyond torn to pieces to be made “contemporary” was Penelope Spheeris’ take on The Beverly Hillbillies in 1993.  With the commercial success of Wayne’s World the year before convinced Hollywood to take on a couple of franchise revivals.  The later revival of The Little Rascals the year after this was an outright disaster, especially with the shocking sexualization of the child cast.  The Beverly Hillbillies is nowhere near as offensive, though Spheeris cannot seem to stay away from sex as a subject, especially choosing it at the worst possible times to add to her slew of films.


The one thing this film has is smart casting, with Ernest franchise star Jim Varney as Jed Clampett, Cloris Leachman as Granny, Dabney Coleman as the banker Mr. Drysdale and Lily Tomlin as his assistant, Mrs. Hathaway.  That alone could have at least produced a film that was more fun and interesting than expected, especially because the rest of the cast is not bad either, save the chimp.  Diedrich Bauer and Erika Eleniak are convincing as Jethro and Elly May.  Sadly, the four screenplay writers that are credit, and who knows who else contributed without credit, make the surefire fun a big missed opportunity.  Was this test marketed to death?  I would not be surprised.  Too bad, because the casting is so hard to do and when the idea of a reality TV show based on this franchise surfaced, this film sounded like a good idea all over again.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not bad, as shot by Robert Brinkmann, though it may not have the interesting color of the later episodes of the actual series.  It is cleaner and clearer than expected.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also not bad, considering the film was an analog Dolby A-type stereo surround release.  At this point, major feature films were converting to 5.1 digital mixes.  The only extras are the original theatrical teaser, trailer and two TV spots for the film.  Though not as bad as the feature film versions of The Avengers or Lost In Space, The Beverly Hillbillies is one of the missed opportunities of the TV-to-film cycle we have experienced in the last 10 years or so.  If you look at it (again, if you have already seen it), you can catch why.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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