Naomi Battrick and Sean Biggerstaff in Whisky Galore! (Graeme Hunter/Arrow Films)

This remake of a 1949 British film is exactly what the title implies: a celebration of rampant boozing. Although amusing at moments, this quaint little film does very little by way of modernizing its story, or its filmmaking.

Due to World War II rationing, the small Scottish island of Todday runs dry of the beloved drink, or as the islanders call it, “the water of life.” The entire population nearly goes mad—after two weeks. The islanders love whisky so much that after the local pub owner announces he’s poured the last drop, one of the town elders literally dies from lack of it.

In a twist of fate, a cargo ship crashes offshore the island. Some islanders row out to rescue the sailors, who inform them the ship is carrying some 50,000 crates of whisky. A crate holds 12 bottles. That’s 600,000 bottles of whisky just out of reach.

So the obvious answer is to save the sailors and then immediately row out to the ship and steal as much of that booty as their rowboats will hold. However, the stuffy Home Guard Captain Wagget (Eddie Izzard), stationed on Todday, knows the islanders’ thirst for the golden liquor and rightly assumes they stole bottles out of the shipwreck. If Wagget can discover the stolen whisky and bring it to the attention of his higher officers, that will be his ticket out of the backwater.

There are three parts to the story. Whisky is gone. Steal whisky. Hide the whiskey (and drinking it, naturally). However, the filmmakers of the 2016 version have made absolutely no effort to even hint at the adverse effects of this isolated community’s chemical dependency. They have fleshed out some of the female characters (not really), but somehow the change in attitude toward alcohol during the last 70 years was never factored in.

By the end of the first act, you’ll want these islanders to get their damn whisky just so they will quit their moping already. The citizens of Todday act the same way people in my hometown would if the pharmacies ran dry of opioids. Seriously, it’s that bad in Todday. The Scots try to compensate with cigarettes and tea, but nothing is quite a match. Even the children looked bummed because there isn’t any booze.

What Whisky Galore! emphasizes is the attributes of alcohol, such as downing shots so you can stumble home and tell off your controlling mother once and for all. The film suggests that to live in a place with as little going on as Todday, the inhabitants need intoxicants to make living more bearable. Maybe if the islanders had made it to week three without whisky, someone would have figured out the place is no fun to live on because nobody does anything but drink.

The filmmaking style itself is very old-fashioned. The camera remains stationary, aside from some simple tracking shots to display the location. However, sometimes the scenes jump from one to the other abruptly, enough to take one out of the story, and the narration drops in so inconsistently I had actually forgotten there was one.

The characters are extremely dry. All the old guys have bushy grey beards but nary a characterizing feature to be seen, so it’s often hard to distinguish who is speaking. Two sisters, Peggy and Catriona (Naomi Battrick and Ellie Kendrick), are also barely distinguishable. Their fiancés—one a British soldier (Sean Biggerstaff) and the other a schoolteacher (Kevin Guthrie)—are basically the same person. If it wasn’t for each man having his own hurdle to overcome, I would not have been able to tell the two apart.

As the main foil, the brilliant standup comedian Eddie Izzard looks half-awake the entire time. That, coupled with the fact he is the biggest name here, speaks louder than the crashing waves. Whisky Galore! should have been left in the bottle.

Directed by Gillies MacKinnon
Written by Peter MacDougall, based on the novel by Sir Compton Mackenzie
Released by Cartilage Films
UK. 98 min. Not rated
With Gregor Fisher, Eddie Izzard, Naomi Battrick, Sean Biggerstaff, Ellie Kendrick, and Fenella Woolgar