Gilligan’s Island is one of the greatest sitcoms in television history. Even though it only ran a total of three seasons on television, the near one hundred episodes made for some of the greatest laughs of any sitcom ever created. Keeping that in mind, one can only wonder about the first of three movies that would be spawned from this hilarious sitcom over a decade after it ended.
Rescue From Gilligan’s Island came nearly twelve years after the original Gilligan’s Island went off the air. In the time between the series’ end and this movie, the cast had gotten noticeably older. And actress Tina Louise was replaced by Judith Baldwin, allegedly due to Louise’s belief that her role as Ginger had ruined her career. The made for TV movie isn’t a bad movie. But anyone who has any knowledge of the original sitcom, it still pales in comparison, despite still being a family friendly film. Long time fans of the show will remember in the show’s second season, there was an episode titled, “Quick Before It Sinks” in which Gilligan’s thoughtlessness causes the Skipper, Mr. Howell, and the Professor to believe the island is sinking. As a result, the men build a hut that will hopefully float. But thanks to a series of mishaps, it all falls apart, literally. Of course, it turns out that the island never was sinking.
That story idea is used again in Rescue From Gilligan’s Island, only on a bigger scale. Other than the story’s twist ending, that’s one of few links that this movie has to the original series. What really makes the movie worth the watch are the castaways’ personal stories. Having been away from civilization for fifteen years, the castaways return to a world that has greatly changed. Ginger returns to acting, only to find that it is anything but the wholesome business that it had been before being shipwrecked. The professor discovers that everything he had hoped to become famous for inventing while on the island has been invented during his absence. Even the Howell’s themselves find that they have changed during a dinner with some old friends. When they overhear their guests speaking poorly of Gilligan and the Skipper, the Howell’s toss out their guests. And Mary Ann finds that she doesn’t love the fiancé that she had left behind all those years before.
The story behind this movie is simple. But on a much deeper level, the story makes the movie (and the series) so much more important. It comes across as a kind of social commentary. Being on the island, the castaways learned to fend for themselves. They became a family of sorts. Having returned to civilization, each member of the group realizes that being on the island was perhaps less a prison and more a utopia. They realize what was most important was being with each other, not the stresses of their new lives. This concept has become the basis for countless term papers and theses. And each one would be right. Whether intended or not, what Rescue From Gilligan’s Island serves to do is to remind audiences to appreciate one’s family and friends, and the little things in life. It reminds audiences the unimportance of life’s daily stresses and pressures. For that reason, Rescue From Gilligan’s Island is a movie that any Gilligan’s Island fan should see at least once, even if it isn’t as good as the series.
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