Cheech Marin goes to Australia in this rom-com that has both hilarious moments and some stereotypes that today, could be deemed offensive.
Carlos Muñoz is a Mexican-American traveling to Australia to find work so he can send out for his girlfriend. Eventually finding work at a local Mexican restaurant called Mañana, Carlos has the chance to become an owner if he comes up with $5,000. Sadly, he learns his girlfriend is marrying the very person who sent him to Australia. Confused and broke, Carlos soon learns of an opportunity to become part-owner of Mañana.
Alexandra Hobart wants to marry former Aussie Rules footballer Bruce but her businessman father Sir Ian disapproves due to Bruce’s style of showing off. However, he promises that the next man Alex meets will give him a more open mind. After a failed birthday party at Manana causes Carlos to be somewhat hounded by owner Wayne and deemed a loser by Bruce, Alex has found her new “man”. As Carlos and Alex continue their scam, they soon learn there is something more in store for these two.
Anyone who has seen these brand of films knows where this is going to go. While Michael Gottlieb directed the film, he wasn’t too happy with the result and therefore used the all-American pseudonym of Alan Smithee in the credits. This may seem like simple rom-com fare in essence, but Marin truly drives the film well with his antics. When disguising himself as the new jerk in Alex’s life, he brings back memories of his days with former partner Tommy Chong, going in full blast stereotypical Chicano mode. However, as the film progresses, he begins to really like the family and attempts to act more normal.
Emma Samms, best known for her role on the 80’s primetime soap Dynasty, plays somewhat of a spoiled princess who only wants to marry the love of her life. Hamming it up as the loud mouth former sports star and constant player Bruce, Vernon Wells brings a welcome change of pace from his days as Road Warrior nemesis Wez. The highlight scene of the film though is a hilarious scene involving Carlos and Alex’s cousin Maggie, someone obsessed with horses and…Mexicans?! Jeannette Cronin plays the role to a tee and this scene may have one rolling on the floor laughing so hard as she tries to have her way with Carlos while acting like a horse! There is an
Carole Davis plays Alex’s best friend Dominique, who seems totally fine until she reveals she has feelings for a certain someone and this leads to another hilarious and unexpectedly public-seen comic love scene that results in one onlooker stuffing his face with crackers and then spitting them on his friend. It even brings out the stereotype of Asians taking photographs of everything. Of course, this would be considered offensive in today’s standards, but nonetheless is there for a 1990 film.
The Shrimp on the Barbie is not a bad film. Diehard Cheech Marin fans will get a kick out of it. For others, I would recommend at least a rental and judge for yourself.
WFG RATING: B
A Unity Pictures production. Director: Michael Gottlieb. Producer: R. Ben Efraim. Writers: Grant Morris, Ron House, and Alan Shearman. Cinematography: James Bartle and Andrew Lesnie. Editing: Fred Chulack.
Cast: Cheech Marin, Emma Samms, Vernon Wells, Bruce Spence, Carole Davis, Terence Cooper, Jeanette Cronin, Gary McCormick, Frank Whitten, June Bishop, David Argue, Bruce Allpress, Val Lamond.