The Shrimp On The Barbie

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Comedy

A one-sentence synopsis alone could serve as the review for this film: Cheech Marin goes down under and finds romance with madcap heiress Emma Samms. THE SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE is an odd mixture of flavors of the month. Unfortunately, the month for which they were chosen passed years before this movie limped into theaters. At the time the film was made Marin...read more

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A one-sentence synopsis alone could serve as the review for this film: Cheech Marin goes down under and finds romance with madcap heiress Emma Samms. THE SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE is an odd mixture of flavors of the month. Unfortunately, the month for which they were chosen passed years before

this movie limped into theaters. At the time the film was made Marin was a hot comedy commodity, Samms ruled the primetime TV soap-opera roost, and television viewers were just starting to get tired of Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan wishing them g'day. However, it is not as if civilization

progressed much in the interim. By 1990 Andrew Dice Clay had become a comedy star largely by bashing minority groups, and primetime TV was overrun with home videos showing people's pants falling down. Nonetheless, BARBIE remains particularly dated, insubstantial fare. Not only have the film's pop

icons become instant anachronisms, but its tired plot was abandoned by Hollywood some time around 1935. Samms plays Alex Hobart, the rebellious daughter of a really rich Australian (Terence Cooper) who refuses to approve of her impending marriage to a fat-slob ex-rugby star, Bruce Woodley (Vernon

Wells), who is apparently looking to marry into money because his endorsement contract with a beer company is about to run out. To rid his family of Bruce, Daddy promises to give the green light to Alex's next prospective husband, whoever he may be. Hoping that she will upset her father so much

that he will relent and allow her to marry Bruce, Alex recruits an inept Mexican waiter, Carlos Munoz (Marin), for a weekend gig as her latest fiance. Naturally, Daddy winds up liking Carlos, especially after overhearing the Mexican and Alex argue over their bargain, to which Carlos agreed

selflessly, determined to earn enough money to help his friend and employer (Bruce Spence) keep his ramshackle eatery open. Daddy formally welcomes Carlos into the family; Alex cancels the deal and sends her "fiance" packing off to Sydney while she prepares to meet Bruce at a resort hotel. But

when their car breaks down en route to the station, Carlos misses his bus and Alex is late for her rendezvous, providing Bruce with enough time for a close encounter with Alex's sexy best friend, Dominique (Carole Davis), whose accent changes from scene to scene, but whose physical assets are

always in sharp focus. It's also long enough for a private eye, hired by Daddy, to record Bruce's indiscretion on film. Arriving at the hotel the next day, Carlos is punched out by Bruce, who is bent on keeping the Mexican from telling Alex that he saw Bruce with Dominique. Having finally made his

bus, Carlos is headed for a plane that will carry him to the States when Alex is presented with the incriminating photos. After Alex sees the light and dumps Bruce, her father uses his influence to stop the plane on which Carlos is a passenger, and the film ends with a clinch between Alex and

Carlos.

Yes, Cheech gets the girl. But that's about as subversive as BARBIE gets. Though Marin gets top billing, BARBIE was obviously conceived as a vehicle for Samms, meaning that most of its running time is devoted to boring romantic pseudo-problems of rich, stupid white people. Samms looks great in

tight, short dresses and form-fitting designer jeans, but her performance has the overwrought earnestness of, well, a primetime soap star trying to prove she can really act. With his costar proving a less than adequate comic foil, Marin has a hard time generating any kind of warmth or energy in

his scenes with Samms. Nevertheless, he manages almost singlehandedly to provide what bright moments BARBIE offers. Regrettably, a talented, largely Australian supporting cast never quite rises above the comatose material.

BARBIE's direction is credited to "Allen Smithee," the Directors Guild of America's fictional pseudonym for real-life directors who want their names taken off a film. BARBIE is too innocuous to be that bad, but it ain't too good either, mate. For those who will watch Cheech Marin in just about

anything and for connoisseurs of lithe beauties shoe-horned into tight, revealing outfits, BARBIE will not be a disappointment. But those viewers who are interested in laughs might do better to look elsewhere. (Adult situations, brief nudity, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: A one-sentence synopsis alone could serve as the review for this film: Cheech Marin goes down under and finds romance with madcap heiress Emma Samms. THE SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE is an odd mixture of flavors of the month. Unfortunately, the month for which the… (more)

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