What movie would you take with you to a deserted island? We asked the cast of Celebrity Treasure Island, then got a professional film critic to analyse their answers.
Just as WALL-E reveals a deep yearning for human connection through his endless rewatching of Hello, Dolly (1969), a person’s movie choice can say a lot about their wants and needs. Of course, WALL-E didn’t actually have a choice in what movie he would watch alone on loop forever, but the contestants of Celebrity Treasure Island NZ do. Along with demanding their chip and song of choice, we asked them which movie they would take to a deserted island.
As with all our experiments, we then took our findings to an expert. Dom Corry is a film critic and editor-at-large at Letterboxd, whose work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Flicks, The NZ Herald and even the grubby old Spinoff. Beaming in live from actual Hollywood, he gave his thoughts on our celebrities’ desert island movie choices, and what those choices say about their potential gameplay in the world of Celebrity Treasure Island.
A note on journalistic process: As with all rigorous experiments eg Sensing Murder, the name of each contestant was concealed from Corry to avoid any unconscious bias.
THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLES
Guy Montgomery and Cam Mansel: Mission: Impossible (1996)
In a Cruise-based alliance that nobody saw coming, both comedian Guy Montgomery and radio host Cam Mansel chose the 1996 classic, but for very different reasons. “I watched it for the first time a week ago and it was the perfect movie,” Montgomery gushed. “Holy shit, it’s so good. I feel like i finally got Tom Cruise because he was so hot and cool and kind of sexy, and the female lead turns in one of the great accidental comedy performances.” Mansel’s rationale was more situational. “Being stuck on an island you are going to get in your own head, and if you’ve got a crazy out of this world adventure it’s probably a good chance to escape from your reality.”
Corry was shocked by Montgomery’s impulsivity, a trait we have also seen displayed in his previous desert island selections. “Anyone who picks a film they saw a week ago as their favourite movie is a chaos engine,” he said. “They could be a threat in the game, or someone who might be difficult to trust.” With Mansel, Corry was more generous. “That’s very thoughtful and suggests a considered personality, probably a good person to have on your team.”
Elvis Lopeti: Dreamgirls (2006)
Immediately, Corry plucked out one of the most memorable moments from Dreamgirls – Jennifer Hudson’s performance of ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’. “That is about someone asserting their independence after being betrayed by members of the group, which seems to speak directly to the kind of game here,” he said. “I think this person is ready for drama.”
Courtenay Louise: La La Land (2016)
“This is someone who might be a bit more romantic at heart, someone who perhaps is sincere and wears their heart on their sleeve,” Corry opined from the real La La Land. “I would think it indicates a trustworthy person and probably someone who likes jazz.”
Dame Susan Devoy: Mamma Mia (2008)
A beautiful snapshot is shaping up here of the best squash player New Zealand has ever known: noshing down on Ready Salted Eta chips with Kiwi Onion Dip while blasting the Heart cover of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and cueing up Mamma Mia (2008). “This is someone who I feel like would have trouble concealing any of their emotions,” said Corry. “Mamma Mia is about putting everything out there, expressing everything. It’s loud and it is enthusiastic, it’s about shouting how you are feeling from the hilltops while also believing that Pierce Brosnan has a singing voice.”
Lynette Forday: The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Corry said this selection suggests someone who is up for venturing into the unknown, although questioned the authenticity in their answer. “It perhaps denotes a naivety or a guilelessness which, now that I say that out loud, makes me suspicious that is what they are wanting to convey. Maybe they aren’t as innocent as the choice suggests.”
Perlina Lau: The Sound of Music (1965)
“It’s a non-revealing answer which perhaps suggests a level of strategy. Sun Tzu says the enemy shouldn’t know who you are, so this person is clearly following The Art of War.”
Dylan Schmidt: Stepbrothers (2008)
“Good people like Stepbrothers and bad people like Stepbrothers,” mused Corry. “It is eminently rewatchable, not a hugely revealing choice but someone who likes to laugh is probably a good person to be stuck on an island with.”
Iyia Liu: Bridesmaids (2011)
“I think Bridesmaids is a film about the underdog and choosing it might indicate someone who thinks they won’t be perceived as a threat, but thinks they are in with a chance. A quiet achiever, a secret champion. Bridesmaids is about not being the alpha and still being a winner.”
Dr Joel Rindelaub: Dumb and Dumber (1994)
“This is a goofy-ass movie,” chuckled Corry. “Anyone who chooses that movie probably isn’t going to be a huge intellectual threat in the game.” I did not tell him that the person who chose it is the only PhD on the cast.
Karen O’Leary: Clue (1985)
The 1985 cult favourite based on the board game Cluedo got Corry positively fizzing. “Clue is a masterpiece and I am immediately aligning with this person and putting money on them,” he raved. “It is about groups of people analysing each other, it also famously has three endings which can speak to the unpredictability of reality TV shows. This person has good taste in movies and probably knows how to navigate a complex group dynamic.”
Alex King: The Dark Knight (2008)
“The central theme of The Dark Knight is the disrupting power of chaos, which is perhaps relevant in this context,” said Corry, referencing the infamous quote “some people just want to see the world burn”. King perhaps let slip her allegiance to chaos when she told The Spinoff that the film starred “Christian Bale and The Joker”. Corry was frightened by this tell – “I think this person is a real threat.”
Eds Eramiha: The Avengers (2012)
Corry didn’t have high hopes for the unlucky celebrity that chose Avengers. “That is a straight down the middle boring answer,” he groaned. “It’s like saying your favourite food is French fries.” Ironically, as we all know, Eds famously does not eat any kind of potato product at all.
Mike King: The Princess Bride (1987)
“That’s like The Wizard of Oz but without the subterfuge. It reveals someone who genuinely has the spirit of adventure, is probably a good ally and believes in honour and rolling down hills and the greatness of Andre the Giant.”
Jesse Tuke: The Neverending Story (1984)
Although Tuke’s justification was that it “seems like the most logical way to kill a never-ending amount of time”, Corry was concerned by what this answer revealed about his readiness for the competition. “This perhaps suggests a contestant who’s a little too focused on their childhood, and not ready or able to confront the adult realities of life as represented by the specific skills required to advance in Celebrity Treasure Island.”
Cassie Roma: Forrest Gump (1994)
“This sets off alarm bells a little bit,” Corry fretted. “It’s a great film and it is actually not as square a film as history might have us remember, but it’s also a monolithic cultural entity that stands for virtue in a way that, if you were picking it, you’d know that and want that association. I am a bit suspicious of this person.”
Ron Cribb: Braveheart (1995)
“Picking Braveheart in this context suggests someone with a martyr complex who I wouldn’t be surprised to see fall on their sword at some point in the name of helping a teammate.”
Te Kohe Tuhaka: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
“This is a bit like the Sound of Music where it’s hard to pin anything down about this person because it’s so beloved,” Corry hypothesised. “But there are some relevant themes there – mostly perseverance in the face of hardship and digging holes.”
Melodie Robinson: Interview With The Vampire (1994)
The former Black Fern confessed her choice was mostly motivated by a desire to “perve at Brad Pitt”, which concerned Corry. “This person might go crazy on this island quicker, depending how hot the rest of the contestants are and how much they look like Brad Pitt.”
Shimpal Lelisi: The Goonies (1985)
“This is someone who is up for the challenge of the show and will do their very best,” said Corry. “The treasure hunt in The Goonies bodes extremely well. I think this person is in with a chance.”
Siobhan Marshall: Desperado (1995)
“Antonio and Selma forever,” the Outrageous Fortune star gushed. Corry agreed. “Antonio and Selma have never looked better, this is a pretty sexy movie. Of all the answers here, I would like to talk to this person more about movies. They sound fun to hang out with on the beach.” Just don’t expect Marshall to bring any yummy chips to the party.