Guest House Paradiso

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - The Making Of (35:53)
DVD-ROM Extras - Game
Theatrical Trailers (3)
Year Released 1999
Running Time 85:52 minutes
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Adrian Edmondson
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Rik Mayall
Adrian Edmondson
Vincent Cassal
Hélène Mahieu
Bill Nighy
Simon Pegg
Fenella Fielding
Lisa Palfrey
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Colin Towns

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    Once upon a time there was a series called The Young Ones, and it was good. Flushed with success, the creative team responsible returned with another series called Bottom, and it, too, was good, and so the team responsible dreamed of a big screen adventure and the result is Guest House Paradiso, and it was ... almost good. Perhaps it is my advancing years, but those old jokes of knees in the groin, belting the hell out of each other and so on are not quite so funny as they were in the heady days of my youth, when life was more drug and alcohol enhanced than it is today. Still, there is something irresistibly funny about these old worn-out jokes and it is hard not to find yourself snickering away at the antics, as telegraphed so obviously in the film.

    Richie Twat (Rik Mayall) and Eddie (Adrian Edmondson) run Guest House Paradiso. Its idyllic location is on a cliff adjacent to a rather unpleasant nuclear power plant, not far from a village that denies the very existence of the hotel. We are obviously not talking about a five star luxury establishment here - indeed we are talking about the worst establishment in the entire British Isles. This place makes Fawlty Towers look like the Waldorf Astoria. As you can imagine, it does not have a large guest list. Indeed, its only regular patron is one Mrs Foxfur (Fenella Fielding), a woman of advancing years who resides at the hotel and seems to be conned a lot. Apart from that, it is a bunch of Friday night regulars from the power plant out for a beer. Things start looking up a little when the Nice family voluntarily turn up for accommodation, but even that unprecedented event is over shadowed by the next appearance. Famed Italian film star Gina Carbonara (Hélène Mahieu) has failed to turn up for her wedding to Italian playboy and ex race driver Gino Bolognese (Vincent Cassal) and is missing. Naturally seeking a place so isolated as to ride out the storm, Gina turns up at the worst hotel in the British Isles seeking lodging. Richie sees her and falls madly in lust for the lady. Naturally Gino turns up to add further insanity to the mix, along with some rather potent fish, as Richie and Eddie bounce from one disaster to another.

    Anyone who knows the pedigree of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson would not be expecting anything much in the way of story, and that is precisely what we get - not much of a story. What we all expect is a lot of mindless mirth with the same old antics as we have been laughing at for more years than I care to remember, and that is what we get. There is nothing much here that is not well-telegraphed, but it is enjoyable nonetheless - just not a classic, that is all. The performances of the two lads are about as you would expect and the direction from debutante Adrian Edmondson is about as good as it needs to be. However, the stand-out here is undoubtedly Hélène Mahieu and the whole film goes up a notch when she enters. Not that she is any great shakes as an actress, but she sure is stunning. The overall result is exactly what you would expect - nothing much in the way of great film but mindless fun with plenty of neo-slapstick comedy and sexual innuendo to keep the entertainment level up for almost ninety minutes.

    Not classic film in any sense but for fans of The Young Ones and Bottom an essential purchase to bring back plenty of memories. As for the rest of us, a decently amusing film if your tastes for comedy run towards the more puerile end of the scale.

Transfer Quality


    If you believed the packaging for the DVD, the transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. In actual fact, the transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is quite a respectable effort, sharp enough to highlight the model work of the nuclear power plant and detailed enough to see most of what goes on in the dark scenes in the film. Really not much to complain about, especially for the budget involved here, and just enough short of being very good to make you wish for just a little more of a budget to improve the overall sharpness of the presentation. Shadow detail is respectable enough although sometimes you really did wish for a little bit more detail in some of the many dark scenes in the film. The transfer is quite a clear one and there did not seem to be much of a problem with grain here - a mild surprise indeed, as I was sort of expecting a reasonably low grade looking transfer based upon the budget thrown at the film. There did not seem to be any problem at all with low level noise in the transfer.

    Okay, you are talking about the worst accommodation establishment in the British Isles, it is located next to a nuclear power plant and you want bright vibrant colours? Sorry, wrong film. The only bright colours here are in the neon sign that proudly proclaims various things, but mainly the name of the establishment as ARSE, and Gina's wardrobe. Everything else is pretty much your obligatory dull, dank colours - browns, greys, darker greens, blacks and the like. Whilst the result is very good and suits the film very well, it certainly is not bright and breezy. Obviously there is not much opportunity for oversaturation here at all, and colour bleed is not much of a likely issue either. Overall, the colours are quite reminiscent of my place of birth in the West Midlands in England.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, nor any significant film-to-video or film artefacts in the transfer.

    In the absence of noting any layer change, it is presumed that this is a Dual Layer formatted DVD. Rather annoyingly, the subtitles default to on, a problem that I have not seen for a little while.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one soundtrack on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Note that the packaging refers to the soundtrack format as surround and gives a little symbol that would sort of indicate a 3.0 soundtrack. The packaging is in error.

    The dialogue comes up well in the soundtrack and is always easy to understand. There did not seem to be any problems with audio sync.

    The musical score comes from the pen of Colin Towns, the second time a piece of his work has come through my player in a week or so (hint - another decent British comedy). Since the film has such a slapstick quality to it, you really do not need much from a soundtrack and that is about what it gets.

    This is a rather nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, at the higher bit rate of 448Kb/s, with enough action in the surround and bass channels to generally enhance the film. Unfortunately, the engineers got rather carried away with the bass channel on occasions and it got just a tad overpowering in some scenes - most notably the kitchen scene where Richie and Eddie are belting each other with a steel jug and fire extinguisher respectively. Aside from being the source of some rather dubious foley work, the enhanced bass used here is quite false and ultimately detracts from the scene a little in my view. Thankfully these sorts of scenes are few and far between, and had this ended up with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, I would not have been surprised as it is perhaps no more than the film needs. Overall, good without being spectacular.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A decent if not especially wonderful collection of extras round out the package here.


    Decently themed with some nice audio and animation enhancement to raise them above average. They are all 1.85:1 efforts and are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - The Making Of Guest House Paradiso (35:50)

    This is more along the lines of what we should be expecting on every DVD - decent length, minimal use of excerpts from the completed film, decent amount of cast and crew interview material and plenty of stuff about how the film was made (vomit and all). Presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. At times a funny look at the making of the film, with enough technical stuff to enhance the enjoyment of the film, this is a worthy addition to the package and something that we should see a lot more of on all DVD packages. It does however suffer a little from aliasing issues and is quite grainy at times (sometimes intentionally).

Outtakes (otherwise known as Arse Ups)

    Quite an extended collection of goofs and hilarity as the cast burst into inappropriate laughter, flub their lines and slip over when they aren't supposed to. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, they are 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

DVD-ROM Extras - Game

    Throw the DVD into your ROM drive and you get the chance to play (on both PC and Mac) a little game: simply choose which idiot you want to be (Richie or Eddie) and by pushing the appropriate key on the keyboard you can either punch, kick or otherwise belt the other character. First to reach a score of five wins. Riveting stuff for about 10 seconds, which is less time than it takes to fire the game up - so don't bother really.

Theatrical Trailers (3)

    Basically variations on a theme, these comprise a full length theatrical trailer (1:50) and two teaser trailers (0:50 and 0:57). They are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, are 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Decent enough if not exactly enthralling.

R4 vs R1

    I cannot find any reference to the film being released or being due for release in Region 1.


    Guest House Paradiso is certainly not classic comedy, but for fans of the creative team this will be an essential purchase. It certainly is mildly amusing and for filling in almost ninety minutes, you could do a lot worse. It could perhaps have benefited by moving a little away from the usual Rik Mayall/Adrian Edmondson. Oh, and if you want further packaging errors, those not so numerically challenged as the proofreaders engaged by Universal will notice that there is no chapter 14 listed in the chapter listing on the inner slick and there are two chapter 20s.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
30th January 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL