Tag Archives: slapstick

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World – Review

21 Jul

In 1963, the world was blessed with Stanley Kramer’s over the top madcap chase comedy aptly titled It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Before this, however, Kramer was known as a dramatic directors with acclaimed films like Inherit the Wind and Judgment at Nuremberg as testament. What a way to enter the realm of comedy than with a movie that stars more comedians than any movie before it, and I’d wager since. This is a huge, epic comedy with action, excellent stunt work, riotous cameos, and slapstick comedy that brought the genre to a whole new level. To put it simply, this is one of the funniest movies ever made.

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After careening his car off of a California highway, “Smiler” Grogan (Jimmy Durante) tells a group of witnesses about a briefcase with $350,000 buried under a giant “W” in Santa Rosita State Park. Thus begins a race by this group (including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, and Jonathan Winter) to get to Santa Rosita and uncover the fortune for themselves. Along the way, alliances are made and broken, vehicles are destroyed, and one gas station is completely obliterated. While all this is happening, police captain T.G. Culpepper (Spencer Tracy) is keeping a watchful eye and planning his own way to get a hold of the hidden money and start a new life for himself.

If ever there was a need to talk about the cast of a movie, this is the time. One of the taglines appropriately reads, “Everybody who’s ever been funny is in it!” While that may not be completely accurate, it certainly doesn’t seem to stretch the truth too far. Besides the names I’ve already mentioned, the case also includes Buddy Hackett, Eddie Anderson, Peter Falk, Phil Silvers, Jack Benny, The Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, and even Buster Keaton. The crazy part is that that still isn’t everyone. This movie is completely PACKED with Hollywood’s funniest people at the time. Even if you couldn’t care less about the plot involving hidden money and the race to get to it, this movie is worth seeing just to see all of these people in the same film. It’s a blast trying to spot everyone.

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While this is a really funny movie, a lot of the humor stems from the action set pieces that happen. Believe it or not, this is a very action heavy movie with car chases, plane stunts, and people just getting flung all over the place. The stunt work is absolutely fantastic and the chases are fast and exciting. It was cool to watch a movie that was as exciting as it was hilarious. From beginning to end, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World does not slow down and refuses to come to a halt of any kind. That’s pretty impressive considering it’s nearly 3 hours long. The full length cut available from Criterion is actually three and a half hours long, so I’d be curious to see how it holds up with those extra 45 minutes.

There’s so many great characters and actors in this movie that it’s hard to choose favorites, but it’s worth a shot. Jonathan Winters and his character Lennie Pike are high on the list for a very important reason. There’s a scene where Pike single handedly destroys an entire gas station. There is nothing left standing by the end of the rampage, and that’s honestly my favorite part of the movie. I also really loved Terry-Thomas as the British J. Algernon Hawthorne, a slimy kind of guy who has nothing nice to say about America or the people in it. Finally, whenever Sid Caesar was onscreen, it was hard not to laugh. He plays a sort of straight man dentist named Melville Crump, and seeing someone that straight laced in the middle a situation as off the wall as this is just hilarious.

Anyone who likes to laugh either already has seen or must see It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. It’s an exciting chase movie, a magnum opus of slapstick, and the ultimate conglomeration of funny people to ever grace the silver screen. After the success of this movie, Stanley Kramer went on to direct more comedies, and why wouldn’t he after showing just how good at it he actually was. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World should be on any film lover’s list for funniest movies ever made, and if it isn’t I’d have to hear why.

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Braindead (Dead Alive) – Review

28 Jun

Peter Jackson. There’s a name that everybody knows very well, even if movies aren’t your forte. He’s most known for directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a remake of King Kong, and an adaptation of the book The Lovely Bones. But let’s pretend that they haven’t happened yet and the year is 1992. Peter Jackson’s first film, Meet the Feebles, was a small cult hit but he would need something bigger to really start his career. How about making the “goriest film of all time?” Now we have Braindead. 

Lionel (Timothy Balme) is a push over who spends his days doing whatever his mother (Elizabeth Moody) tells him. After his mother gets bit by a Sumatran rat monkey in the local zoo, she begins to get sick and eventually dies…but not for long. Soon, the undead begin to run amok and it’s up to Lionel, who is new girlfriend, Paquita (Diana Peñalver), and his scheming Uncle Les (Ian Watkin) to destroy these zombies any way possible with unbelievably gory results.

I was excited to see Braindead. Really excited. I mean, come on, this is supposedly the king of all gore movies, and I can now honestly say that it is and then some. I could not believe the amount of blood, limbs, intestines, and all the other miscellaneous appendages that I saw fly across the screen. In one particular scene involving a lawnmower, five gallons of blood were blasted from the device per second. What other movie can brag about that?

The scene below is pretty gross. Just wanted to let you know if you want to watch it.

Don’t let the amount of gore and general yuckiness give you the wrong idea. You will be laughing hard at 90% of the jokes in this movie. Lionel was both likable and frustrating, but definitely a character we can relate to on some level. The supporting characters were appropriately good and evil, with the exception of Uncle Les who went above and beyond the level of douche baggery.

What I also mean by not letting the gore intimidate you is also the fact that when there are loads of body parts flying across the screen, it is normally in a slapstick fashion. There were never any parts in the movie, besides the one above scene, that really grossed me out like Anti-Christ did. Instead it was just a lot of fun to see how far Peter Jackson would go with his gore crazed scenes. I have to say, it exceeded my expectations.

This is the scene that I mentioned in the beginning and is probably the goriest scene of the movie.

Stylistically, Braindead hits the mark perfectly. The film is loaded with dutched close ups that are both funny to look at because they are kind of cheesy, but they also cause a feeling of disorientation at times. There are also some great green and purple filters used in scenes towards the end that make the rooms in the zombie filled mansion almost other worldly.

Braindead or Dead Alive, whatever you want to call it, is a fantastically awesome early film by Peter Jackson. I can vouch for it and say that it is, at least, the goriest film that I’ve ever seem and that’s saying something. I don’t just recommend it for that reason, however. I recommend it because it is really funny, has style, and also has great characters. This is a very well rounded movie in a aspects and I really loved it.