Don't Drink the Water [1969]

Genre: Comedy
Fans of Woody Allen's earlier, more purely comic movies will enjoy Don't Drink the Water, a film of his successful stage play about a hapless diplomat during the cold war. Michael J. Fox plays Axel McGee, the son of an ambassador to an unnamed Communist country. Though forced by family pressure to enter diplomacy, McGee has no talent for it whatsoever and has been kicked out of cities, countries, and even entire continents. When his father goes back to Washington to seek a higher position, he reluctantly leaves Axel in charge. For a few days, all goes well. But then the Hollanders arrive (Julie Kavner, Mayim Bialik, and Allen himself), a Jewish family from New Jersey who accidentally took pictures of a sensitive intersection. Accused of being spies, they seek asylum at the embassy--and immediately send everything out of whack by insulting the chef, tying up the phones with long distance calls, and almost starting an international incident by squabbling with a Middle Eastern emir. Eccentric characters abound, including a priest who's been in asylum at the embassy for so long he's taken up magic tricks to pass the time (Dom DeLuise) and a snooty bureaucrat who thinks McGee is an idiot (Edward Herrmann). It was funnier when the cold war was still going on, but it's still an entertaining farce, directed by Allen. --Bret Fetzer

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