film 4 of 8

Road To Singapore

Film Review by Dean Duncan Aug 29, 2014

Singapore? This first Bing ‘n Bob romp looks more like a wild Polynesian pastiche, with maybe, mostly, Tahiti being the place they sort of settle on. Not that they really care, do they? We shouldn’t try to make men or movies into offenders just for a word or two. But what if most every word that the man or movie says is offensive? In case you ever wondered, it’s not just modern film that acts inappropriately. One hopes you don’t have to be a person of colour, or a woman, to find that to be the case.

The thing is, Road to Singapore isn’t that funny, either. Cringing while you’re bored isn’t the best way to have or make or enjoy a movie. Mind you, looking a little closer shows that the disastrous bits are countered in part, and to some degree. Miss Lamour is objectified and taken advantage of, but then she subsequently tames the tamers, and not at all shrewishly. Shades of J. Apatow’s Knocked Up? The idea of vigourous men refined and leavened by intelligent women isn’t just ideological, nor is it always oppressively stereotypical. Oblivious is a problem; rude may not be.

To be fair, part two, this film is partly not funny because they hadn’t yet figured themselves out. They need to pick up the pace, multiply the gags, admit the artificiality and absurdity of the exercise. Subsequent Road movies would of course do just that. And even here there are glimpses. The shotgun scenario—yes, it’s just what you might think it is—at the very beginning of the film is surprisingly and promisingly immoral. A little of Bob Hope’s weasel persona can go a very long way, but it has its uses and pleasures. The part where he gets that functionary deported, for instance, is gleefully, very pleasingly ill-behaved. As for Crosby, as everyone knew and knows, he is a complete natural. That is one fast brain, operating without any noticeable strain or even effort. He’s not trying to prove that he’s got all of these talents. He just obviously does. Let’s keep our eyes on these guys…