Julien Neaves, Editor
Greetings RedMangoReaders (ooh, that’s a keeper). So longtime RMRs will know that one of the goals of this site is to promote Caribbean film (Cariwood). Well, I’ve been doing a lot of Trinidad and Tobago content recently (big up my fellow Trinis 🇹🇹) so I thought it was time to feature a film from beyond my beautiful twin-island state. And that brings us to one of my favourite Caribbean films, the raunchy Jamaican sex comedy The Lunatic from way back in 1991.
The film is about Aloysious, the titular village madman who adds fancy-sounding words like “idiomatic” and “gossamer” to his lengthen his name, and has conversations with trees, bushes, cows and cricket balls. His simple life gets turned upside down when he meets Inga, a free-spirited amateur German photographer, who makes Aloysious her lover. The film is written by Jamaican novelist Anthony C. Winkler and is an adaptation of his own 1987 bestselling novel of the same name. It was directed by English musician and video director Laurence Neil “Lol” Creme, credited as “Lol Creme”.
I first saw this film as a child (shh, don’t tell my parents) and I found it a laugh riot. But does it hold up almost three decades later? Well one’s sense of humour usually changes with time, and when I rewatched it recently it wasn’t the laugh-a-minute comedy fest that I remembered. Sure, I laughed quite a lot, but I found myself more amused by the subtler humour and the witty dialogue than some of the more over-the-top antics. Though I will admit that a heated quarrel between the wise Strongheart Tree and a “born-again” bush did leave me in stitches.
Aloysious is played by Paul Campbell (Dancehall Queen, Third World Cop), Jamaica’s most popular actor and quite the versatile thespian. He infuses the protagonist with boundless energy, a childlike curiosity, and effortless affability. You will like him from the very first scene and root for him to the end. Veteran actress Julie T. Wallace (The Living Daylights, The Fifth Element) is a delight as the sex-crazed Inga and is a great foil to the naive Aloysious. Rounding off the main cast are Carl Bradshaw as atheist butcher Service, and Reggie Carter, who does double duty as the kindly but slightly racist rich landowner Busha and the voice of the Strongheart Tree, Aloysious’ best friend.
The Lunatic may have been risqué back in 1991 but in terms of sex comedies it is pretty tame by modern-day standards. The sex has no nudity and usually involves Inga flopping atop Aloysious, when she is not verbally and/or physically abusing him. And how offensive you find the language would depend on hoe much Jamaican patois you understand. This film probably has the record for the greatest use of the Jamaican term for a woman’s vagina, which has not one but two Ps. P— P— power indeed. But sex is a minor part of the film and is really a gateway to investigate the deeper issues of gender politics, religion, race, cultural appropriation and post-colonialism. A debate on whether or not the Queen of England defecates perfectly encapsulates both the humour and the deceptive intelligence of this film.
So while as a child The Lunatic had me crying with laughter, as an adult it made me laugh less (though more than your average comedy) but made me think more. And I found that a more rewarding experience.
Julien’s Score: 8 out of 10
For my review of classic Jamaican crime film The Harder They Come you can click here. And for more than 50 Caribbean film reviews you can check out our Cariwood archive here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.