Saturday, December 19, 2009

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

(John Trent, 1975)
A wilfully silly, class-conscious farce in the British tradition, and maybe Anthony Newley fans will dig it; I wouldn't know. The multilayered tale of corruption, extortion and blackmail doesn't make much sense, but of course plot is just a device to keep this conspicuously tripartite apparatus on the move. Things do accelerate with gratifying speed as the first act consists of a bunch of rowdies taking over a political fundraiser at Yvonne De Carlo's place and feeding the elite a laxative greek salad. Act two involves Newley's ex and the politico (named Sinclair Burton, a nice in-joke that no one outside Canada can possibly comprehend) menaced by a trained bear and skunk at a cottage retreat, at considerably greater length than the conceit can support. Act three comprises the extortion subplot and introduces Lawrence Dane and John Candy's bumbling cops, and while they're no funnier than the rest of the cast, they are somewhat more appealing - so it figures that they would get their own, equally painful sequel in "Find the Lady". The broad, smutty carnivalesque is friendlier and more tolerable in this version than in its 80s equivalents, but that's not to say it's successful - all the googoo eyes and speeded-up running around and peepee-caca histrionics leave me tapping my foot in the aisles.

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