The titular duo of temporarily unemployable thespian alcoholics subsist in Camden Town, London at the tail end of the ’60s. Their apartment, more or less swamped by absolute squalor, is as cold, unforgiving and dispiriting as the drab, grey weather outside. So they swap one drizzly clime for another, and go on holiday “by mistake” to Withnail’s rotund homosexual uncle’s home in the countryside. That’s about the extent of the plot, but the film is filled with so many memorable, quotable lines that the story becomes a secondary concern.
Richard E. Grant, in his first feature film role, is superb as Withnail, as is Richard Griffiths as his uncle. Ralph Brown, who plays Danny, the drug-addled layabout who takes over Withnail’s apartment while they’re away, has some of the best lines, including: “You have done something to your brain: you have made it high.” The character recurs in Wayne’s World 2 as Del Preston, who rambles nonsensically in the most hilarious British accent about the time he, Jeff Beck and Keith Moon got Ozzy Osbourne “one thousand brown M&Ms” so he’d go onstage and why Keith Richards cannot be killed by conventional weapons.
This uproarious, unforgettable film is available in a special two-disc edition from vendettafilms.co.nz—with cover art by Ralph Steadman. It comes with a host of extra features including a half-hour retrospective documentary, Withnail and Us, and two audio commentaries.