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The Boy Friend (1971)
"This film's got layers, I tell ya, layers!"
Never content to do anything by halves, Ken Russell has made a movie musical that fascinated and frustrated me in nearly equal measure. This is a film within which a musical unfolds in real time that then has dream/fantasy sequences which, as the film goes on, tend to go on for too long. Actors in the play try to trip each other up while also mugging for the Hollywood talent scout. The songs are cliche bordering on parody but are often paired with the most sumptuous, opulent visuals. This is a film that revels in its excess and "muchness." Fortunately, this is-or-isn't-it-a-joke had a knee-slapper of a punchline-ending. (And theater kids would probably get a laugh or dozen out of this.)
The Music Lovers (1971)
Cinematic art by a consummate artiste
Watching a Ken Russell film is, if anything, an experience, and this was certainly was an emotional rollercoaster. Although it has less of the absurdist/surrealist touches that would come to characterize his later films, it still had a rhapsodic quality that deftly blended the music and visuals. While I can't claim to be overly familiar with Tchaikovsky's life, by now I'm used to Russell's approach in this area: taking the raw, biographical material and concocting something purely fantastical out of it. It's an approach that I quite like, something which moves beyond the mundane and quotidian details that characterize ordinary life and creates something magical and mythological, that lays bare the inner life of its characters. I also liked how the film played with blurring lines, revealing underlying connections between music and sexuality, ecstasy and insanity. This was certainly less insane of a movie than LISZTOMANIA, but just as dramatically thrilling. It is cinematic art.
War on a human scale
For all of the adrenaline rushes and vicarious thrills that can be had with a well-calibrated action/war film, the best ones invariably focus on the human drama instead of mindless carnage. And in the tradition of the best war movies, 1917 does this exceptionally well while still delivering the thrills and tense moments one expects from this type of cinema. I don't remember being this affected by a war movie since probably SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (to which, in a small way, this owes a small debt). When it comes down to it, Marvel and DC and all the others can keep their world-at-stake existential crises because the intimacy and emotional gravitas of personal relationships is where it's at. This is filmmaking on a human scale.
Coming 2 America (2021)
Completely dependent on nostalgia
Well... It is 2021 and a belated sequel to 'Coming to America' exists. And not one that I can imagine people clamoring for either. But returning to the well of nostalgia is almost a perennial activity, so not really surprising. Was it funny? Yes, in parts. Those parts happened to be callbacks to the first movie, though. It was enjoyable to see these people doing these characters again, like trying on outfits you haven't worn in years. The new additions were just that, although I can't really say that they really did much for the story, which was basically a rehash of the original. But the film acknowledges this in a meta/postmodern way, so it's ok? Kind of? I will say that I laughed and had a decent time, but this will be a one-and-done. I wouldn't have bothered to see it had it not been part of my Amazon Prime subscription. Just add it to the growing list of self-referential pop culture ephemera that will not be remembered for half as long as the initial film that spawned it.
Less pathos, more pathetic
I must say I wanted to like this film when I first saw the trailer. Tom Hardy disappearing into another role in a period piece based on one of the most notorious people in history? Sign me up! Sad to say the execution of such a great premise went out with more of a whimper than a bang. The story concerns the final year in the life of Al Capone, mentally deteriorating from neurosyphilis at his Florida mansion. I will first lay out what I feel to be the strong points. The production design, costumes, and makeup were all great. Linda Cardellini does a fantastic job as Capone's long-suffering wife, Mae. The scoring was done well, and musically interesting in its own right. Good use is made of the operatic standard, 'Nessun dorma.' What I felt did not work was the choice to focus an absurd amount of running time on a pointless subplot about some possibly hidden cash that Capone stowed away before doing his prison term. Not only is there no payoff (SPOILER), but more time could have been spent humanizing Capone beyond Tom Hardy's relentlessly one-note performance, maybe showing more of the effect it had on the people surrounding him. However much I am hesitant about the vogue choice of humanizing our monsters, not delving deeper into that human drama feels like a missed opportunity. Instead we get aimless, wandering sequences that seem more interested in confusing the audience than actually conveying or provoking emotion. If there is one thing severely lacking in this film, it is pathos. This film ultimately left me numb. Overall, unless you are a Tom Hardy or Josh Trank superfan, I would skip this and go watch something else, e.g., THE UNTOUCHABLES or SCARFACE (the original one).
A captivating and believable romance
I haven't written a movie review in a few years, but I felt like this film in particular deserved one. The story is about a female painter who goes to stay temporarily with another woman engaged to be married in order to paint her portrait. However, the woman to be married is very apprehensive about the whole thing so the painter has to do her work in secret while pretending to be a walking companion. As you can imagine, working like that is very difficult but that frame is only an entry into the film's larger themes of self-discovery and finding authentic connection with another person, even if the nature of that connection is socially proscribed. Everything in this film radiates with color and pulsates with tender emotion, and the central performances are the best I've seen in quite some time. That being said, this isn't for everyone. Unless you have a taste for slower-paced art films, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. In the end, though, I found this a thoroughly captivating romance that will most surely take its place in the pantheon of the timeless.
An endearing movie, all things considered
It had been a long time since I last watched this film, but one of my suitemates enjoys French film and wanted to see it after I described the plot to her. However, I didn't really remember much else beyond that. Jean-Pierre Jeunet makes rather quirky films, and A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is no exception. There is a sense that the world he depicts could exist, and it helps that the story has an actual historical setting, but there will always be a few things that seem off-kilter or just a little weird. Weirdness done or its own sake can be off-putting, but I feel like there was a good amount here that helped to round out what were very endearing characters. In general, there was a sweetness that provided excellent counterpoint to the horrors of war that are periodically depicted. Of course, the story itself is a large part of this. Audrey Tautou's character goes on a mission to find her fiancé who went missing during the war. She never gives up hope that he might still be alive, even when things don't look they will turn out OK. A lot of French films (at least the well-known ones) are known for being downbeat and/or having depressing endings. I liked that this film is more positive and hope-filled. The only mild gripe I have is that it might take a little too long to get to the eventual destination. Not quite patience-testing, but surely the script could have been tightened a little bit. Still, this was a wonderful story told with great performances and a generous helping of visual panache. Highly recommended, especially for people who like foreign films.
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Excellent treatment of an under-researched subject
I don't remember how I came across this film the first time, but I felt like now was a good time to revisit it. THE CELLULOID CLOSET is the feature-length expansion of a groundbreaking work by Vito Russo that explores the portrayal of gays and lesbians throughout cinematic history. It runs the gamut from amusing and funny to tragic and (occasionally) offensive. I'm not LGBT, so I don't exactly have a stake in how those characters are portrayed, but fairness and equality argue for the same treatment that heterosexual characters have received by default for as long as cinema has been around. If anything, it's amazing how much the LGBT community has been represented in film at all, however subtle it has been. This documentary also provided a long list of films I'd be interested in checking out in the future. As a documentary, it provides the usual talking-head interviews and archival film footage one would expect, and all of the interviewees had interesting things to say as well as how all of these films and portrayals affected them and how they saw themselves. All of that to say, that movies are important and how we see ourselves projected on the screen matters a great deal. The only possible fault I find is that it was only limited to the L and G of LGBT. Also, given that this came out over 20 years ago, the subject seems ripe for another revisit in terms of the progress made since then. Bigots and/or people with a "moral" objection to the subject matter probably won't watch this (much less have heard of it), but I highly recommend this to anyone in the LGBT community, or anyone else with an open mind.
A brutal and harrowing Western
Brutal. Harrowing. Unforgiving. Just a few words that come to mind that succinctly describe the experience of watching BRIMSTONE. If you like/don't mind the unsavory and uncompromising in your entertainment you'll probably enjoy this. If you like languidly paced art films, then you'll probably enjoy this. Otherwise, you might lose your patience. The narrative unfolds slowly and methodically, but the payoff is mostly worth the time taken to get there. Aiming to keep this spoiler-free, a brief synopsis is that a new minister (Guy Pearce) comes to a small Western town, and this puts a mute woman (Dakota Fanning) on edge, especially after a miscarriage puts her at odds with her fellow townsfolk. One further important detail is that the film is divided into four chapters, and the first three of these unfold in reverse chronological order. The movie centers around Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce's characters, and the narrative structure allowed the director to withhold key information until the right time. Of course, like many other films with unique narrative devices, remove it and the film wouldn't be nearly as effective. That being said, there's plenty of stuff that goes on in nearly two and a half hours. A little indulgent? Sure, but all of the narrative elements are good enough to not make this much of a deal-breaker. I will say that the pacing, though slow, was steady and I never got bored. Thematically, Martin Koolhoven (the director) was able to use the period setting effectively to portray a world of religious coercion and the lengths men will go to justify oppressing women. Guy Pearce's character was basically evil incarnate, and it was a scarily brilliant performance. Dakota Fanning also did well, certainly better than I've seen out of her before. Kit Harrington also had a small role as a man that Dakota Fanning's character secretly nurses back to health, and who also teaches her a valuable lesson. From the more technical side, I greatly enjoyed the beautiful cinematography, and the haunting score by Tom Holkenborg (aka, JunkieXL). All things considered, this is one of the best films I've seen in a while, Western or not. For some reason, Europeans seem to do a better job nowadays tackling this genre, and BRIMSTONE is no exception. As long as you're a somewhat patient viewer, and not easily offended, I can highly recommend this.
Sausage Party (2016)
A graphic religious allegory (and not for kids)
Nothing in the trailers will prepare you for this movie, including what it's actually about. SAUSAGE PARTY is an allegory about religion and how ridiculous it is, but also about how we can overcome our differences and learn to get along. Granted, there is no solution proposed nor does the humor rarely rise above obvious sexual puns and stereotypes (different foods represent ethnic groups, minorities, etc.), but the throw-everything-at-the-wall approach guarantees that at least some of it sticks. And importantly, for a comedy, there are plenty of genuine laughs to be had. Then there's the ending, which I will not spoil. Suffice it to say that it seemed oddly appropriate...and that you can get away with quite a bit more in an animated film than live-action. This wasn't the craziest or funniest thing I've ever seen, but it made for a few dollars and a couple hours well-spent.
A funny and poignant exemplification of "Comedy = Tragedy + Time"
The 1-2 punch of Carrie Fisher's and Debbie Reynolds' deaths was a fitting, but tragic, end to a year unprecedented in the number of famous/recognizable people who passed on. And for nerds, Carrie's death cut especially deep. As is the case when a celebrity dies, interest in their work surges for a time as people re-explore (or discover for the first time) why we fell in love with these people in the first place. Like most people, I'm familiar with Carrie Fisher through her work as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, but only recently did I realize that she was a prolific writer. WISHFUL DRINKING was her first directly autobiographical work, based on a life which many people might envy if it weren't for all of the mental illness, drug addiction, etc. And based on this stand-up special, she was also a brilliant comedienne. Essentially a chronological overview of her life, it was filled with hilarious anecdotes and delivered with her trademark self-deprecation. Rarely have laughter and sadness coexisted so closely. And now that she's gone, the ending takes on a new poignancy. If you're a Carrie Fisher fan, I highly recommend checking this out if you haven't already (and her books, too).
Michael Moore in TrumpLand (2016)
Could Hillary be our Pope Francis?
Michael Moore is one of those documentarians that I've been aware of for a long time, yet never took the time to watch anything he's done. Until now, that is. The premise is pretty simple: Michael Moore went into a solidly Republican/conservative part of Ohio (ironically, in Clinton County) and made a pitch for Hillary Clinton. You will not find any Trump-bashing here (at least no vitriol), and what little of him does feature served a purpose. Things started off kind of shaky with Moore doing an occasionally awkward stand-up routine, but once he got the audience's attention/respect and delved into his case for a Hillary Clinton presidency, things smoothed out quite well, and even got quite emotional at times. The only parts that had me rolling my eyes were some of the early jokes and a concluding stunt (I'm guessing/hoping that it was) where he promises to run in 2020 if Hillary doesn't live up to the promise he sees in her. It had the feeling of those hackneyed high school debate speeches where the candidate promises junk food for lunch (or something similarly ridiculous). Even still, he made his point very well (and positively). The technical details of the film weren't necessarily the best, though, probably due to the film's quick production. There are many noticeable points where the audio changes in quality, and some of the editing seemed just a little off. Other than that, I thought that MICHAEL MOORE IN TRUMPLAND was an effective film that made its case without resorting to negativity, and with a minimum of theatrics.
De Palma (2015)
More a conversation than a documentary...
Brian De Palma is one of those directors whose films are very polarizing (with a few exceptions, of course). Being that he no longer works within the Hollywood establishment and his output has been drastically reduced, I guess a documentary will have to do. And boy, what a documentary! Still, the word 'documentary' doesn't really describe this film that well, since it's more like a one-on-one conversation. De Palma is very candid about his past and doesn't shy away from emphatically stating his opinions on people he's worked with and his own work. One thing that did surprise me was how little Hitchcock, his clearest influence, was brought up. Not a criticism, just an observation. Clips from VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and REAR WINDOW are shown, though, in the context of techniques or stylistic features that De Palma learned from them. If anything, the range of artistic influences was much wider than I had ever realized before. Even if he never made another film, De Palma has left behind an incredible body of work that deserves serious study and consideration, and this documentary fills a void for everyone. It provides a nice retrospective for those already familiar and, for those not, a great place to start.
More gently funny than the other roasts, and not as vulgar (to its credit)
James Franco is interesting, in an oddball sort of way, but not necessarily the first person I'd think of to roast. He's certainly done a lot, but the usual honorees have the bulk of their career behind them. Not this guy, which kind of makes it a little more interesting. I thought that the featured roasters were all well-picked, even if not all of them were funny. Basically, the dais was filled with a bunch of his friends, which made it more intimate. I also liked that they didn't go so heavy on the vulgarity, making the subjects a little more diverse than usual. Still...So. Many. Jew. Jokes (Bill Hader's turn as an old Jew in a tracksuit was probably the best instance of this). My personal favorites were Sarah Silverman and Jeff Ross, who have done well in other roasts. Jonah Hill and Andy Samberg were bombs in my opinion. Jonah Hill seemed like he was trying too hard (or couldn't keep his game face on), and Andy Samberg's ironic performance just wasn't funny to me. James Franco's rebuttal wasn't necessarily the best or the worst I've seen, but it was alright. Taken in context of Comedy Central's other roasts, this is certainly one of the more creative ones, even if the end result is rather tame.
Quite a funny satirical musical for a non-fan of SOUTH PARK
I've never been much of a SOUTH PARK fan, mostly because the same-y voices get on my nerves and the animation style isn't that aesthetically pleasing. Still, the send-up of America's morbid, puritan obsession with "smut" and "profanity" in pop culture while ignoring violence was funny and relevant. It also doesn't hurt that there are a number of hilarious songs. A lot of the humor had me scratching my head, or was mildly shocking for its audacity. However, none of it was less than interesting. This doesn't necessarily make me want to go back and catch up on 19 seasons of episodes, but maybe I'll go check out a few.
Really funny, but not as mean as it could have been
ROSEANNE was one of many sitcoms I watched growing up, so the idea of roasting her seemed like a good one. She certainly has had a crazy/interesting life. Sadly, despite a mostly amazing dais, this roast didn't quite live up to what it could have been. Like the Donald Trump roast, they let her off easy. I mean, where's Lisa Lampanelli when you need her? Is she too big for these roasts now? Still, I was pleased with the talented people they picked. Anthony Jeselnik and Amy Schumer were my favorites out of the newer crop of comedians, while workhorse Jeff Ross was good as usual. Non-comedians Ellen Barkin and a hilariously self-deprecating Carrie Fisher also acquitted themselves nicely. Gilbert Gottfried? I didn't like that he was the last roaster to go before Roseanne herself took to the mic. I also only laughed at his material by sheer force of will? It was like Stockholm Syndrome, but with jokes. Yelling obscenities is more annoying than funny, in my opinion. Even though this is a comedy special, I won't spoil anything, but there was a touching moment where you could feel the love. And, as a comedian, Roseanne gave as good as she got, and better than Bob Saget, I might add. Still, despite not quite living up to its comedic potential, the roast of Roseanne Barr is certainly one of the better ones.
Rockstar treatment for the self-described "Rockstar from Mars"
Now 9 roasts deep into the 11 that Amazon has available for streaming, I can see a unique character developing for each one. It might seem obvious at first glance, but I promise that it isn't. Yes, they recycle a lot of jokes even though they may tailor them to specific people, but I'm not really referring to those. What I mean is how the production is tailored to each roast honoree. Although it is mostly confined to the introduction, you can see how the animations are unique in their own way, and the choice of song when the man/woman of honor enters. Maybe I'm putting a little too much thought into a comedy special, but at least Comedy Central did. The earlier ones were kind of anonymous in that kind of detail (or maybe I just didn't notice it until now), but it is clear that CC is getting into kind of a groove. As for the jokes, I continue to hear a lot of recycled material, particularly before each roaster gets to the main person. They're still funny, but the enthusiasm of my laughter does decline with each repetition. Thankfully, Charlie Sheen has had significant enough of a career and personal failings with which to generate comedic material. My personal favorites were Anthony Jeselnik, Amy Schumer, and Patrice O'Neal. Mike Tyson was tolerable at best, and way too many barbs were directed at him, distracting from the main event. It also didn't help that he couldn't keep his mouth shut when it wasn't his turn. Anyway, I digress. I found the level of humor acceptable, and Charlie Sheen himself equally adept at dishing it as taking it. Overall, in the upper echelon of these Comedy Central roasts.
Let the roasting continue with David Hasselhoff, star of KNIGHT RIDER and BAYWATCH! Usually, the jokes are funnier when you actually care about or are very familiar with the roastee, but I only watched BAYWATCH and a few episodes of KNIGHT RIDER so I really wouldn't consider myself a fan as such. That being said, the dais was pretty good and the jokes were mostly good as well. As is usual, the standouts were Lisa Lampanelli (going surprisingly early this time), Jeff Ross, and Greg Giraldo (who killed it, in my opinion). The only ones I didn't really care for were Hulk Hogan and Gilbert Gottfried, although a lot of it had to do with the delivery more than the content. If the roast had just been jokes, I would place it somewhere between the bottom and the middle, but the Hoff's intro and singing helped push it over that cheesy edge. Overall, this roast is kind of middle-of-the-road, but nonetheless enjoyable.
Comedy Central finally roasts a comedian, and it's...alright, I guess
After watching so many of these in a row, this is probably the point where the sameness of the jokes becomes a bit tiresome. And yet, I still found plenty of opportunities to laugh. I watched FULL HOUSE and AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS growing up, so I'm pretty familiar with Bob Saget's work. His raunchy standup, not so much. A lot of the humor hinged on scatology and profanity, as Comedy Central is wont to do, but I laughed at least once for each dais member. The only one that really stood out in a negative way was Norm Macdonald who, if not bombing unintentionally, still did some rather awkward Kaufman-esque performance art that I didn't appreciate very much. Overall, I felt the writing wasn't on par with previously viewed Comedy Central roasts (especially Bob Saget's closing segment), but there were enough comedic nuggets that I didn't feel like my time was wasted.
One of Comedy Central's lesser roasts
The roast marathon continues with Flavor Flav, the hype-man for Public Enemy. Joining him were a decent assortment of comics, hip hop entertainers, and Brigitte Nielsen, who met him on his reality show FLAVOR OF LOVE. Usually I judge these by how much I laugh (I mean, how else should you judge something like this?), and unfortunately this isn't one of the really good ones. Sommore and Snoop Dogg were rather inconsistent in terms of content and delivery, while Brigitte Nielsen was just awkward and unfunny period. I also found Flavor Flav himself to be tone-deaf when it came to comedy. I could also tell that some of his segment was cut out. The standout performances were by people who regularly feature on these roasts: Greg Giraldo (RIP), Jeff Ross, and Lisa Lampanelli. For whatever reason, I love their no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners approach to insults, even if they heavily rely on scatological humor. Patton Oswalt's bit stuck out (in a good way) in contrast to this by making some more intelligent references (one of which he had to explain). Overall, I'd put this above the Donald Trump roast, but it's still somewhere near the bottom.
Laughed so hard, I nearly busted my gut
My god, this was a gut-bustingly funny roast! Of the Comedy Central roasts that are available on Amazon Video, I think that this one is the best. While recently they have resorted to roasting people who perhaps haven't had enough of a career to warrant being celebrated this way (which is technically what this is supposed to be). Fortunately, Shatner is not a flavor-of-the-moment celebrity who happens to have done a bunch of stupid stuff with which to throw in his face. He earned his spot here. Everything is touched upon, from his unique acting style, singing career(?!), commercials, relationships with his fellow Star Trek cast members, etc. Yes, the humor was heavily scatological, but I've come to accept that as a fact of modern comedy, with these roasts in particular. On top of that, this has what is surely the best dais of all 15 Comedy Central roasts. If you're very selective about what you buy or watch (at least in terms of these comedy specials), the William Shatner roast is definitely one to get.
Pretty solid jokefest with the exception of one person
I've watched a bunch of these roasts, and for the most part they're funny. Certain people are better than others and the non-comics they bring on are usually a mixed bag, but I laugh enough for me to enjoy it. I'm not particularly familiar with Rob Lowe's life or body of work, though. Literally the only reason I bought this was because I heard/read that Ann Coulter got roasted almost as bad as the man of the hour. In that respect this did not disappoint. Beyond that, I found it mostly on-par with what I've previously seen of Comedy Central's roasts. People I found the most funny were Jimmy Carr and roastmaster Jeff Ross. Unexpected MVP goes to Peyton Manning who, despite not being a comedian, delivered some pretty good jokes (probably none of which were written by him). As can be expected Ann Coulter's turn behind the mic did not go so well, but I wasn't really anticipating anything great from her to begin with. I literally have no idea why she was there other than for people to poke fun at her (which, admittedly, was worth it). Overall, the special provided me with a nice 80-minute diversion, even if the asking price of $6.99 was a bit much.
The best thing the Biebz has ever done (aside from Selena Gomez)
As I've mentioned before, I've already seen a bunch of these Comedy Central roasts, but this is one I saw tonight for the first time. I laughed until I physically hurt and cried. Unlike the two most recent ones I watched (Donald Trump and Rob Lowe), everyone brought their A-game, even if they weren't all at the same level. Singling out two, Natasha Leggero (who I hadn't heard of before this) and Shaq were the surprises to me. Natasha for how brutal she got, and Shaq for doing something I wasn't aware he could do effectively, i.e., deliver jokes (that were pretty funny as well). Most surprising inclusion was Martha Stewart, who also did well for a non-comedian. All in all, I liked that pretty much every dais member went for the jugular, even if they ended their mic time by saying how much they liked Bieber. I mean, they only roast the ones they love, right? Really the only downside was the last-minute decision (undoubtedly pre-planned) to turn this into a sort-of personality rehab. Whatever happened to insulting people for the heck of it? Nobody's perfect, after all. I don't want to see someone try to exorcize their demons publicly. Anyway, similar to what Hannibal Buress said, I don't like his music. Never have. However, this 90-minute-ish roast with a willing participant who enjoyed himself was time and money well-spent.
"I've got the best dais, the yuuugest entertainers. Believe me!" (if only...)
If anyone deserves a good roasting, it would be Donald Trump. There are only two factors which make this comedy special not as funny as it could have been: 1) They did it too early; just think if they'd decided to roast him AFTER he lost this election in a landslide, not to mention all of the many outrageous things he's said and done over the course of the campaign; and 2) They didn't go far enough. With the exception of a few zingers, the dais handled him with kid gloves, you know, the kind that Donald Trump wears. From a big-picture perspective, the roast was funny and I laughed a fair amount. There was only one true bomb, courtesy of Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, one of the no-talent hacks from the Jersey Shore. Of course, maybe it's fitting that a failed comedian come from one of the many places where Trump had a failed business. Who knows? For my money, fortunately not much of it, the best routines were by Anthony Jeselnik (?) and Snoop Dogg, who acquitted himself quite nicely in a performance format for which he's generally not known. If you're one of the many people checking this out a second time now that Trump's threat to run for President has become reality, you might find some laughter here. However, your best bet would just be to follow the news as he continually provides fodder for jokes much funnier than what you'll find here.
The Producers (1967)
I laughed a lot, which is success for a comedy
As I make my way through Mel Brooks' filmography, I am constantly reminded of how funny he is. I mean, who else would think of making a movie about two Broadway producers who make a musical about Hitler? I laughed so much it hurt. Of course, my head often hurt for other reasons too. Gene Wilder, while quite hilarious himself, frequently got on my nerves with his manic episodes. It was funny the first couple of times, but it annoyed me afterwards. The true star of the film was Dick Shawn, who played the lead actor in the musical 'Springtime for Hitler.' He was such a pleasure to watch. Overall, I would say this is one of the more straightforwardly comedic Mel Brooks films. I certainly laughed more consistently than with his other ones. However, I don't see myself rewatching this a lot. It was good for a "one and done." I'm glad I saw it, and now I'll move onto his other work.