Sunday, March 10, 2013

Movie Review; It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great performances by comedy legends
Cons: DVD release is poor, movie starts slow
The Bottom Line:
So many great stars
Combine for this classic film
Laugh until it hurts

It's a Classic, Classic, Classic, Classic Comedy

On a deserted road in the California desert, a group of strangers witness a car accident. Before the car's driver dies, he reveals the location of $350,000. Though at first skeptical, the group begins to believe his tale.

Initially, the group of eight people thinks they can work together and get the money. However, they quickly argue about how best to divide the loot. Now, the race is on as each group is out to get the money and keep it all for themselves. Along the way, various characters will face ancient planes, flooded cars, drunken pilots, girl's bikes, and more car wrecks then you can count.

What the group doesn't know is they are under police surveillance. Every move, every crime has been tracked by the police detective who has been tracking the dead man for 15 years. Who will get to the money first? Will anyone actually get to keep it?

This movie is over 40 years old and still considered a classic comedy for good reason. One reason is the cast. The main characters are played by such classic comics as Sid Ceasar, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Buddy Hacket, and Mickey Rooney. Even the minor characters become cameos with such people as Jerry Lewis, Jim Backus, Carl Reiner, Don Knotts, and the Three Stooges showing up, sometimes only for one shot. Everyone, no matter if they are have a starring role or a cameo make the most of their screen time for laughs.

The story starts out a little slow while it sets up the premise and the characters. Once they pull off the road to talk about the potential of the money, the movie picks up the pace fast, making the over two and a half-hour movie fly by.

If you don't like slapstick, you won't enjoy this movie. This isn't a movie dominated by quips and one-liners. Instead, it is dominated by car crashes, fights, bumps, and anything else the writer could come up with. While I normally don't like this kind of humor, here I love it. Watching these comedy giants at work is great fun. And the situations get sillier as the movie progresses until it reaches the hilarious climax.

Unfortunately, the DVD release doesn't live up to its potential. I grew up watching this movie on VHS, which included scenes added to the movie later. These are some of my favorite scenes, and they aren't in this release of the movie. The disc is two sided. The first side is the movie, presented in very widescreen. The aspect ratio is 2.55:1, which makes the picture narrow. Still, you need the widescreen to see all the characters in some of the shots. The only time it really matters is during the credits, which are hard to read. The picture is sharp, with only occasional dust betraying the movie's age. The second side of the DVD features the extras. They included the "Something a Little Less Serious" documentary that was on the VHS tapes. It provides a fascinating look at the creation of this classic. There are also a couple trailers and a collection of deleted scenes. The deleted scenes include some of the scenes I lamented the loss of earlier. However, they are poorly organized, not in chronological order, sometimes repeat themselves, and must be watched at once.

While the DVD release isn't the best, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a comedy classic. If you enjoy slapstick, check out this movie and be ready to laugh.

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