Movie Review: The Nutty Professor

 

I found this on the list and figured it would be a while before I could find a copy. The remake was available in most stores I visited but the original was not to be found; that is until this past weekend. One copy on tape for fifty cents, couldn’t pass it up considering the scarcity.

A totally inept chemistry professor goes from Jekyll to Hyde in order to woo a student.

This was my first Jerry Lewis film. All I knew about him was that he was a comedian, he has a telethon every Labor Day, and the idea that the French find him hilarious; whether the last part is true, I don’t know. Once he started talking, my heart sank as the voice grated on my ears.

I never liked obnoxious comedic voices or crossed eyes for the sake of getting a laugh. Seeing Jerry as the professor, I cringed. I started to question the inclusion of this film on the list, thinking they needed at least one of his films. I found out afterwards that this was one of three.

But then I found a shot where his back was toward the camera. It dawned on me that I looked like that (in the back). The diction, the mannerisms, his introverted nature, it was me. Remove the whine in the voice, correct the eyes, thicken the frames on the glasses, close the mouth, and it’s me. I was surprised because of this connection.

Do I have moments where I wish I wasn’t socially awkward or was suave and sophisticated? Sure, but I wouldn’t put Buddy Love as the paragon of “cool”. But in the world of opposites, he is in every way the Hyde whether we like it or not.

During the scene where they talk about the senior prom, I got confused. For most of the movie, I assumed that this was college solely because of the title “professor”. But when the term “senior prom” was mentioned, I became uncomfortable as it turned into high school. After some rationalizing and a few more minutes with the film, it turned out to be college. Do they still throw senior proms in college or was that something only done back then?

Aside from the acting, I liked the use of color, especially for the Purple Pit. Even though I saw this on tape, it still looked vibrant.

Did I like this film? Somewhat. Even with the strange connection, it wasn’t laugh-out-loud. I make it a point to watch the original version of a film first before the remake, just to understand what the remake might do better or worse. This is one of the few where I wonder if the remake improves upon the original. That remains to be seen.

6/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

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Movie Review: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

 

Looks like somebody wants a hug. Any takers? Anyone? No? OK…

The race is on to prevent a nuclear crisis after an officer oversteps his boundaries.

Before I started my film journey a year or so ago, I watched this with the understanding that the comedy would be obvious. I was mistaken. I watched it again yesterday, ready for another go. I understand more of the humor, but not all of it without doing some serious research.

Some of the humor has aged well. I liked Peter Sellers explaining to the Russian premier about the crisis like a preschool teacher reprimanding a student. He just went and did a silly little thing, that’s all. For the context of the film, it’s fine but if it happened in real life, I’d be concerned.

What hasn’t aged well is how the crisis came about through General Ripper. Having someone in the armed forces go crazy is not funny, especially given some of the recent incidents involving military bases. I suppose for the time the film was made, the scenario seemed unlikely. I know the film is supposed to be a black comedy but the starting point isn’t funny.

The War Room is still impressive to look at. In one of the documentaries featured on the print I had, the table was colored like a poker table. The symbolism is lost in black and white but now you know (and knowing is half the battle).

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that war films are not my strong suit. This is one of the few that I like. I’m not saying that war films can’t be totally dramatic but once in a while, there need to be some light moments. This depends entirely on the intent of the director. I never laughed when I watched Platoon but I knew that humor was not Oliver Stone’s intent for that particular film. Here, the humor is needed to balance the seriousness of nuclear war.

I knew the ending song sounded familiar, other than the fact that I had seen the film a few times. It wasn’t until the line “some sunny day” that I realized where I heard it before: Pink Floyd’s The Wall. There is a more specific connection that I’ll discuss in another post that ties these movies together; if you’ve followed my posts for a while, you probably have a good guess as to what’s in store.

It’s a comedy, sure, but not all of it is tasteful, especially with the passing of time. I still like it but I do have one final question before we meet again. If I can’t fight in the War Room, where am I supposed to fight? I heard there’s a club for it, so I’m told, but I can’t talk about it.

7/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

AFI Top 100 (1997): #26

AFI Top 100 (2007): #39

400 Noms for AFI Top 100 for both years

Movie Review: Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One

The title alone drew me in. Flipping through the channel guide a few days ago, I saw that TCM would air this early in the morning, just after the switch for Daylight Savings Time. I prepped myself with the Wikipedia article and, after reading what was in store, readied myself for the film that has one of the most interesting titles I’ve come across.

This film is about a movie called “Over the Cliff” (Level 1), the documentation of the filming (Level 2), and the documentation of the documentation of the filming of the film (Level 3). Any further than that and we’d be in limbo (BWAM).

The director explains the process early on in the overall film but has to repeat himself to some of his crew. It still left me confused at first but I felt like I had a handle on it. It didn’t last too long.

The overall film spends a small portion at Level 1 and then straddles between Level 2 and 3 for the rest of the film. Sure, there were explicit moments where it was clearly Level 3 (i.e., the crew meetings without the director, questioning his role in Level 2) but I can only go so far into “meta-” territory before I sit there confused and question what is really real.

I liked the use of split-screen as it helped provide different angles for Level 1 (or is it Level 2?). Alas, I’m not sure which side was Level 1 or 2 as, again, the boundary between them became blurred.

The budget values aren’t high-quality and it shows. Then again, it could’ve been the quality of the print that was televised. It’s underground, according to the TCM bumper preceding the broadcast, so I figured I should let it be what it is and just go with it. Besides, it added to the overall piece.

For the dialogue, it’s quite insightful in terms of how people discussed sexuality in the late ’60s. It’s not a topic to be approached so openly, especially in a place like Central Park. Yet, it fits just because it was what the director wanted.

It does end awkwardly, no thanks to a strange guy’s rant. There’s an uncomfortable feeling that reaches from those around him to the viewer. From there, the credits roll and we are promised a second take from a proposed series of five films. Well, there is a second one but it didn’t happen until 35 years later.

The film is a miniature time capsule that shows how far we’ve come and still have to go for race and sexuality. I’m surprised this hasn’t been put on the list yet, just because of the complex nature of the piece. It’s worth watching just to see how it all plays out. Don’t watch it if you’re tired or not thinking clearly. Have your totem handy, just in case.

7/10

Movie Review (of sorts): One Got Fat

 

Nothing says bike safety like dead monkey children. Harsh perhaps? You bet, but you might ask yourself the same question if you saw them.

This cult oddball short involves the depiction of monkey children biking to a picnic but somehow dying along the way, except for the eponymous character who got fat.

I was first introduced to this through Rifftrax on a shorts compilation DVD. Honestly, this isn’t my kind of nightmare fuel but because it’s from the guys at MST3K I played along. Then, TCM aired this at 5:45 one Sunday morning and I woke up early just to see it without the alternate commentary. Such is life.

I’ve seen masks from the 60’s and stuff that surpassed the creepy factor than these monkey masks. Notably, I remember seeing a Mickey Mouse mask from the early 30’s that looked like something from Escape From Tomorrow. Still, you have to admit these masks are very strange.

Honestly, how did these kids ride with the masks on? Not one part is dedicated to wearing a helmet, something that should’ve been listed first. Second would be to not wear masks. Just why?

Kids, don’t wear masks or evolve (devolve?) into monkey-human hybrids. Looks for signs and follow the rules of the road. Run the other way if you see something like this in real life.

5/10

Movie Review: The Sound of Music

 

Seeing as how I had mixed feelings with Oklahoma!, I was a little hesitant to watch this. I had heard that a live production of the musical would air within weeks after watching this over THXgiving break. Will I see that? I doubt it.

A nun is sent away to be the governess of a family with seven children just before WWII.

When I was younger, I visited Salzburg and got a tour of some of the filming locations. Watching this now, it’s interesting to see where the scene takes place and have that memory come back to me. Just having the chance to do so was amazing in retrospect.

For our recut trailer assignment in editing, this was our original movie that we planned on using for a horror trailer. It was an hour and a half in that my partner and I looked at each other and realized that we didn’t like it and switched it for Willy Wonka and ended up with WONKA. The potential was there, but we could not decide which elements to feature out of context. I’m glad we made the switch.

As to the movie itself, it’s well made. The aerial shots capture the vast expanse of the landscape. The songs are good and sung decently. The costume design is fantastic. It’s a good movie.

While I don’t see this in its entirety on TV on Christmas Eve, I get a kick out of having a nearly three hour film be expanded to four hours but be edited to fit within the time allotted. If you just show the commercials during intermission (no repeats), I’d think that would be enough to suffice. Also, why is this considered a Christmas film if it’s not even mentioned in the movie? Think about it.

I don’t dislike the film; it’s that I will probably watch it maybe once every few years or so. For nearly three hours, it’s a commitment that I don’t think I can do repeat viewings immediately after seeing it once. It’s good in small yearly doses.

7/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

AFI Top 100 (1997): #55

AFI Top 100 (2007): #40

400 Nominations for AFI Top 100 for both years

Winner of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Scoring of Music – Adaptation or Treatment