Whisky Galore review

Why? That’s the overwhelming response to this perfectly pleasant, utterly adequate remake. When you already have Compton MacKenzie’s source novel and Alexander Mackendrick’s and Angus MacPhaill’s classic Ealing Comedy, why would you need a new version? Not least one that’s just going to pale in comparison…

Loosely based on genuine events, Whisky Galore is the tale of Todday, a remote Scottish island, where WWII has just impacted in the cruellest possible way: they’re out of whisky.

So, when a passing ship carrying some 50,000 cases of whisky runs into some rocks just offshore, the locals plot to liberate the cargo. This isn’t as easy as it appears, given that the Home Guard, under Captain Wagget (Izzard) have been ordered to ensure nothing happens to the whisky, plus it’s the Sabbath, and Todday is a deeply religious community.

As cat and mouse tales go, it’s a very gentle one, even with a shoe-horned in subplot involving the Duke of Windsor, Wallis Simpson and a case of letters. It’s a character driven, very low key comedy, that’s pleasant enough but rarely rises above the clichés you’d expect. There’s a hint of predictable romance with Peggy (Battrick) and Catriona (Kendrick) Macroom and their suitors, Sergeant Odd (Biggerstaff) and George (Guthrie), the son of a VERY religious, disapproving mother, but that’s about it for added interest, and it all just rolls past the eyes without really sticking. Saying that, Fenella Woodgar is superb as Mrs Wagget and gets all of the best lines.

Accents – to this ear – waver from Scotland to Ireland via Wales, which distract enormously and, when there’s not much going on to begin with, it’s a challenge the film really doesn’t need. If it was on TV on a Sunday or over Christmas, you’d watch it and be perfectly content with life. Shell out the price of a cinema ticket though and I suspect you’ll wonder why you bothered.

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Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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