Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Movie Review: Gus (1976)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny movie that will have the young and young at heart laughing
Cons: Predictable, cheesy, and unrealistic
The Bottom Line
A good movie?  No
But it's still entertaining
And very funny

"There's an Old Yugoslavian Expression - Never Switch Mules in the Middle of a Shave."

You know those movies that you know aren't fabulous but you just love anyway?  That's the case with Gus.  It's cheesy and slapstick.  But it's so much fun.

The California Atoms are the worst football team in the world.  As the new season begins, owner Hank Cooper (Ed Asner) is trying to figure out just how to get any players in the stands.  Of course, with Venner (Don Knotts) as the head coach, that's not going to be easy.

His salvation comes in the form of a mule fromYugoslavia.  Gus comes over with his owner Andy (Gary Grimes) because he can kick field goals.  Hank figures this will be a great half time show and will brings fans back to the stadium.

And it does, at first.  But then Hank gets an even better idea.  He'll use Gus to kick the field goals, and as he does that the team starts to win.  Then Hank makes a wild bet about the outcome of the season, and things get even crazier.  How will the Atoms finish the season?

Disney has released this at various times over the years trumpeting Don Knotts' work in it.  Honestly, that surprises me because he's really a supporting character.  The focus is on Gus, Andy, and Hank more than his character.  Heck, he doesn't even get a first name.  I'm okay with that, however, because I quickly grow tired of his antics most of the time.

What I find even more surprising is the whose who of 70's sitcom men who make up the supporting cast.  In addition to Ed Asner and Don Knotts, the cast is filled with Dick van Patten, Harold Gould, and Tom Bosley with Tim Conway also in the cast.  It's hardly surprising with that list that the acting is good, although Gary Grimes' accent seems to come and go.

Granted, the movie is fairly cheesy from start to finish.  It was a Disney release from 1976, so that's hardly surprising.  It fits perfectly in their releases from that period, funny but very light and mindless.

And I do find it funny.  It's filled with slapstick from the very beginning and it never stops.  Heck, I'm laughing during the opening credits, and that goes right up through the scene where two goons get their comeuppance.

The movie is also predictable.  You can pretty much guess how things will work out by the time you've reached the half way point if not before.  Even so, I am amazed how the climax manages to resolve several plot threads at once.

Oh, and the football?  Even I, a non-sports person, knows that what happens here is highly unlikely to ever be allowed.  Do I care?  Not in the slightest.  I have so much fun that the reality grump in my brain gets shouted down.

I first saw this movie as a kid, and I'm sure that is part of the charm for me.  I might not like it as much as an adult, but I can slip into childhood and laugh at all the same spots.  (Some might claim I'm not that far from childhood, but that's a discussion for another time.)

So I say give Gus a chance, especially if you have small children to watch it with.  They will enjoy it, and that will make you enjoy it, too.

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