If you are a Brit, like I am, it is highly likely you are acquainted with the film Withnail and I. You’ve either watched it a million times, or heard your family and friends rave about it. Although Withnail and I dates from 1987, its brand of British humour is still very much the same today. In fact, in my opinion, the comedian Noel Fielding might have based his whole persona on the character of “Danny the drug dealer”!
The film is about two unemployed actors (played by the fabulous Richard E.Grant and Paul McGann) who squander what little money they have on alcohol and live in the most squalid flat. The only company they seem to keep (apart from the creatures inhabiting the depths of the filth in their flat) is Danny the drug dealer. This is, of course, not your regular hard as nails drug dealer but a softly spoken man responsible for inventing an absurd contraption named the “Camberwell Carrot” (a joint made up of 12 papers that’s about 18” long). This is obviously pure nonsense and definitely not meant to be recreated.
One day, Withnail and Marwood decide they need a holiday. Lucky for them, Withnail manages to obtain a key to his uncle Monty’s cottage in the countryside. Although Withnail is ridiculously flamboyant and completely over the top, no doubt there are still a lot of Londoners out there also living in abject conditions, desperate to escape the London grind. Unfortunately, once Withnail and Marwood reach they cottage they discover that their holiday will not be as pleasant as they had hoped.
It is cold, there’s no food, no running water and no electricity in the cottage. They seek help from the locals, with Withnail famously exclaiming: “Help us, we’ve gone on holiday by mistake!” Of course, no help is forthcoming as Withnail has managed to offend everyone with his acerbic wit… The reason we Brits are so fond of this film is perhaps because we also have the reputation of offending whilst on holiday, although probably on a lesser scale than Withnail. It is very much part of British humour to say what is on one’s mind, like Withnail, which probably is the reason why brits abroad are sometimes accused of behaving badly… Thankfully, they do not have to endure the Spartan conditions much longer as Uncle Monty turns up at the cottage laden with food. However, Uncle Monty has taken a shining to Marwood and keeps coming onto him, as Withnail, to secure the key to the cottage, has led him to believe his friend is a closet homosexual.
Apart from the slight issue of portraying Uncle Monty as a lecherous homosexual, this is a terrifically enjoyable film that will definitely give you a better insight into British humour.