“The Beverly Hillbillies” is a zany, family-friendly film adaptation of the iconic 1960’s tv show of the same name. I use the term family-friendly in a loose sense because the film pushes the boundaries enough that it does not have a clear target audience. The slapstick comedy is entertaining for all ages and the PG-rating/limited amount of profanity are a strong indicator of a family film; still, the running gag of the country characters mistakenly giving the middle finger to city folk will leave parents with a challenging explanation for their kids. The critics hated it but it has an enormous appeal for older fans of the original and captures the style of the original in a modern setting. It makes great use of fast-motion and the Clampetts’ ignorance toward modern conveniences like intercoms and pool tables creates laughs from start to finish. Most of the film’s issues lie in its overly-cheesy script, though its light tone could be a result of the film’s family-friendly target audience. The casting crew still managed to successfully replicate the characters from the original series. Jim Varney (of “Ernest” fame) is a no-brainer for Jed, Diedrich Bader is great as Jethro (and even greater as Jethrine), Cloris Leachman has the perfect comedic timing as Granny, and Erika Eleniak captures the tomboyishness and beauty of Elly May. New characters are played by Lily Tomlin and Rob Schneider, but I believe that the best performance in this entire film comes from Lea Thompson. Her French accent is magnifique and she convincingly plays her role within a role. One of the smartest decisions in this film was to give a cameo to Buddy Ebsen (the original Jed Clampett), but to incorporate him as his other classic character, detective Barnaby Jones. “The Beverly Hillbillies” has some great comedic moments and clever one-liners, but it will fall short of expectations for fans of the original series and will seem incoherent for everybody else.
[Pictured: The Clampetts are great fun but the film gets trapped somewhere between "family film" and "appealing to the older generation"]