Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Time Bandits (1981)

Shrimps and Wimps: Time Bandits Has It All, Including Gimps

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In"
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

Terry Gilliam, who made all those demented cartoons in episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, directed this film and co-wrote it with Michael Palin (who also appears in the movie).

Six midgets steal a map from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) that shows where all the doorways connecting time and space in the universe are. A hole opens up in the bedroom of a little boy and a horse gallops thru, then back again, thru the hole in the wall. Naturally, the kid follows and joins up with the midgets, all pursued by the Supreme Being.

The Devil (David Warner, who was so ripping good in 1979's Time After Time) wants the map too, so they all end up in a dark castle that's made of (if you look closely) giant lego blocks. Along the way they meet Robin Hood (John Cleese), Napoleon (Ian Holm), and ancient King Agamemnon.

The kid finally gets back home in time to see his house explode and something really nasty fall out of the microwave oven as the credits roll.
Shelley Duvall of Popeye, Katherine Helmond of "Brazil", and Peter Vaughan are in it, while the midgets include Kenny Baker and David Rappaport.
116 minutes in Britain, 110 in America (I wonder what they cut out?)
Well, anyway, that's all I can think of to say. Joe Bob Briggs was supposed to have a review of Time Bandits but, well, here's what he turned in:

Last week I thumbed out Highway 80 to find Gus Simpson and tell him to put my motor back in so I could go to a midget movie called Time Bandits, only Gus had spread metal across his gravel lot like marmalade on a Ritz cracker...
And then I called up Rhett Beavers and told him I needed a ride to the flicks.
Rhett said, "A what movie?"
Midget movie.
"How short is it?"
You don't understand. It has shrimps in it.
"I don't wanna see no wimp movie."
It hasn't got wimps, just shrimps.

And that's when Rhett asked me to explain the difference between shrimps and wimps...
A shrimp don't have to be a wimp, but a wimp is always a shrimp, that's what I always say. You take the six shrimps in Time Bandits. They're so shrimpy that they're actual midgets, name of Randall, Fidgit, Wally, Og, Strutter, and Vermin. Average height three foot ten. I know what you're thinking. Wimp city.

Nope. We're talking shrimp but no wimps. What we have here in the first scene is a kid named Kevin, living in a future time, lying in bed trying to go to sleep, and these six shrimps fall out of the sky and land in Kevin's room (Kevin is not a wimp. Since all kids are shrimps, the only way to tell a wimp from a shrimp in this case is to hang around the playground and wait until somebody yells "Dogpile." For example, if somebody were to say "Dogpile on Kevin" and then 30 guys sat on Kevin, then Kevin would be the wimp. This is because life in the fourth grade is not fair).

Now what happens in Time Bandits is that these six shrimps just stole this secret map from the Supreme Being, and they're running around through the universe breaking into time zones and making off with valuables -- like if they landed in my room, they'd probly take the marble burro bookends that Dede Wilks brought back from Matamoros. But they don't land in my room, they land in Kevin's room, and right away you know they're not wimps because they've got more blue metal than you can find on Industrial Boulevard at 2 in the a.m. We're talking knives and pistolas. We're talking heavy wimp-removal machinery.

I should mention that Rhett Beavers has a diploma that he got from a preacher named Biff Wooley who used to carry a foldup neon cross in the back of his Eldorado, and ever since the Reverend Wooley gave it to him, Rhett has professed an interest in the theological nature of life. That's why, at this particular point, Rhett said, "What about the Supreme Being? Shrimp or wimp?"
Rhett was obviously not into this movie yet.

So I explained that some people are neither shrimp nor wimp. For example, once the seven shrimps leave Kevin's room, they start flying through space and time and meeting people like Napoleon and Robin Hood and this ogre and King Agamemnon and various shrimps, wimps, and pimps. But then there's this one part of the movie where they're on the deck of the Titanic but it sinks, and then they get fished up out of the water by this ogre and his wife (who looks like Olive Oyl), and then the boat rises up out of the ocean and they're on top of the head of this giant who's walking through the water. The giant is the opposite of a shrimp.
"What's that?" asked Rhett Beavers.
Blimp.

I could tell Rhett was about to have an actual thought, so I moved on. Another guy the shrimps meet on their travels is Robin Hood, only the actor they got to play him is John Cleese. I asked Rhett if he knew who John Cleese was.
"Shrimp?" he asked.
"Nope. Limp wimp."

When I first saw this guy, my wimp detector went off the scale. He's one of those guys who shakes hands with three fingers and says words like "beastly." He's a tall guy, though, which just goes to prove that wimpery is a state of mind.

Then there's King Agamemnon, who is swinging this caveman club at a half man half horse out on the desert when Kevin falls out of the sky and lands on the monster and the king kills it. Agamemnon is Sean Connery. Let's talk wimp meter for a minute. This guy registers in the negative digits. When Kevin saves his A, he's all crippled up and exhausted, and so he walks funny when he starts heading over to his horse to go home.

"Which proves what?" said Rhett.
"That he might limp."
"Okay"
"And his leg might be gimp."
"Right"
"But he's not a wimp."
Just to sum this thing up, I told Rhett Beavers that, to get a true idea of the difference between a shrimp and a wimp, he had to see this Lowenbrau commercial they show during football season. Rhett said he thought he'd seen it.

"You know the one where the four guys get together for a weekend on the beach with their wives?" I asked
"Yeah"
And then they sit around in this resturant and say stuff like "Steak and Lowenbrau, why didn't I think of that?"
"Yeah"
And then one of them proposes a toast and says, "Here's to good friends"?
"Yeah"
"Wimp City"
Rhett said he got the idea.

© 1987 Joe Bob Briggs. All rights reserved. Reprinted in Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In


For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob Briggs.com

Books by Joe Bob Briggs are available from Amazon.com

World War One breaks out in 1914 and the British War Ministry sends out a coded message to an outpost in Africa, "War declared! Arrest all enemy aliens in your district." Back came the reply, "Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchmen, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we're at war with."

The drive-in will never die!

"Time Bandits" is available on video and on DVD A lawyer, a doctor and an engineer have all been sentenced to die for crimes that they have committed.
The Lawyer is brought up in shackles and placed in the guillotine.
The executioner pulls the lever to activate the device and the blade starts to fall but jams. The Lawyer is spared and released to go free.
The Doctor is brought up in shackles and placed in the guillotine.
The executioner pulls the lever to activate the device and the blade starts to fall but jams. The Doctor is spared and released to go free.
The Engineer is brought up in shackles and placed in the guillotine.
The executioner reaches for the lever to activate the device and the engineer shouts, "Wait! Stop everything! I think I've figured out your problem!"

Fun fact:
Katherine Helmond (the ogre's wife) has appeared in two other Terry Gilliam films, Brazil (a George Orwell spoof) and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” She is currently the voice of old Lizzie in Cars (2006). Previous films included Alfred Hitchcock's “Family Plot.”

Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.