Around the World in 80 Ways (1987)

 “Best line my tummy so’s I’m able to perform.”

Australians always manage to create some of the most demented comedies I’ve ever seen, and Around the World in 80 Ways from director Stephen MacLean makes my list of top 10 all-time great comedies.

Around the World in 80 WaysWally Davis (Philip Quast), who according to his dad has “gone funny,” owns and operates a tour bus and runs a beachfront trailer/cafe shaped like a giant banana. After the trailer is repossessed, Wally heads home with the plan to raid the family savings account, but Mum, Mavis Davis (Diana Davidson) leaves for a long-desired whirlwind world tour dumping Dad, geriatric Roly Davis (Allan Penney) at the Twilight Rest Home as she heads for the airport. Wally’s dad suffers from “galloping senility” and has “started boring himself to death” thanks to a treacherous blow delivered by neighbour and former business partner the portly, toupee toting, used car salesman Alex Moffat (Rob Steele).

As Mavis Davis departs on the low budget tour that becomes the holiday package tour from hell, her lustful neighbour Alex Moffat unexpectedly joins her. Meanwhile Wally springs Dad from the rest home with the help of his younger brother Eddy (Kelly Dingwall), an “unemployable tragedy”, but all Dad wants to do is set off in hot pursuit of his wife arguing that Moffat, his rival, neighbour and ex-business partner,”pinched my business and now he’s trying to pinch my Mrs.”

But there’s a BIG problem….Wally needs the money in Dad’s savings account to bail out his trailer from repo. So instead of spending the savings on a world tour to catch Mavis, Wally and Eddy improvise. Since Dad only has 2% vision, they simply PRETEND to travel the world in pursuit of the ever-moving Mavis. Stops on the travel tour include: Hawaii, Las Vegas, Rome and Japan, and Wally creates all of these countries aided and abetted by Eddy, his sound system, Nurse Ophelia Cox (Gosia Dobrowolska), and a small army of inflatable dummies. Oh, and Wally ‘borrows’ Moffat’s “Wedding Cake of a house” named “Tara Moffat” for his world tour. While Mavis is dragged across the world, enduring one miserable experience after another, Roly Davis has the time of his life at home.

You have to see this film to believe it–some of the best scenes, for me at least, are in “Las Vegas” when Wally is both a chorus girl and Elvis, and the way in which Wally creates fake flights and airports is brilliant, amazing, and hysterically funny. And take a good long look at the tour guide, Lotta Boyle (Judith Fisher)–she looks uncannily like Hilary Clinton. The way in which the film juxtaposes the real tour with the fake tour is brilliant, but beneath all this comedy, there’s a motto here: you don’t have to travel the world to have the time of your life. If you loved Muriel’s Wedding or Welcome to Woop Woop you will enjoy this insane comedy film too.

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Filed under Australia, Comedy

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