Six Mel Brooks films in a row. One writer. Cue high anx­i­ety

Empire (Australasia) - - Re.View - ALI GRAY

RE­GARD­LESS OF THE health haz­ards of bing­ing six films straight, I grate­fully ac­cept the chal­lenge of main­lin­ing a half-dozen Mel Brooks movies — be­cause the world is go­ing to hell and I need a laugh now more than ever. No check­ing the news for de­press­ing head­lines. No check­ing Twit­ter, the hell por­tal in my pocket. It’s just me, Mel B and a met­ric ton of M&MS. Bring it on. 9.20AM THE PRO­DUC­ERS

Such manic en­ergy! This Mel-a-thon is go­ing to be a breeze at this rate. Zero Mos­tel (sleazy) and Gene Wilder (hys­ter­i­cal, wet, in pain) ex­e­cute one of the all-time great comedic set-ups: the cre­ation of a Broad­way flop in or­der to flim-flam in­vestors. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to see Gene Wilder’s ca­reer in utero as Leo Bloom, a livewire wimp with a busted moral com­pass. Though it’s too early for singing stormtroop­ers, ‘Spring­time For Hitler’ re­mains un­beat­able. It’s al­most enough to make you for­get about the re­turn of the real Nazis. 11:00AM BLAZ­ING SAD­DLES

Gen­tle­men, rest your sphinc­ters: I’ve never seen this 1974 com­edy. I only know the fart-tas­tic camp­fire scene, so it was a de­light to fol­low through (fnar) and dis­cover such a fun-filled romp. Glee­fully goofy and only fit­fully of­fen­sive, Blaz­ing Sad­dles’ silli­ness is a brave stance to take on Amer­ica’s deep-seated racism — few mod­ern come­dies would dare mosey into this town, let alone knock down its walls. Here’s me think­ing it was just about trump­ing. Trump. Nope. Not look­ing at Twit­ter. 12:45PM YOUNG FRANKEN­STEIN

Wild, Wilder, wildest: the third Gene Wilder com­edy of the day is also his most elec­tric, chan­nelling that bot­tom­less ex­u­ber­ance like a light­ning con­duc­tor. As Dr Fred­er­ick ‘Fronken­steen’, Wilder gives his most wild-eyed per­for­mance, bet­tered only by Marty Feldman’s bug-eyed hunch­man, Igor. I don’t care how hor­ren­dous world events are: if you don’t laugh dur­ing ‘Put­tin’ On The Ritz’, you are a life­less corpse of stitched-to­gether body parts. 2:40PM HIGH ANX­I­ETY

This 1977 satire takes aim at the work of Al­fred Hitch­cock, but never feels more sub­stan­tial than a se­ries of send-ups. Some jokes work bet­ter than oth­ers (the an­gry bell­boy de­liv­er­ing a rolled-up news­pa­per to Brooks in the shower with a shrill, stab­bing mo­tion: “Here! Here! Here!”) and there’s sub­tle hu­mour to be found in the par­o­dies of Hitch’s cam­er­a­work, like when Cloris Leach­man and Har­vey Kor­man ob­scure the rov­ing lens be­neath their glass cof­fee ta­ble with cups and saucers. Still, it plods in places. 4:30PM SPACE­BALLS

I feared Space­balls would have aged ter­ri­bly but this 1987 spoof is still sharp as a tack, thanks to the time­less com­edy of Rick Mo­ra­nis, bliss­ful as Dark Hel­met. Yes, it’s ju­ve­nile, and yes, Star Wars was an easy tar­get, but the jokes are de­liv­ered at lu­di­crous speed and even the broader gags gen­er­ate a gig­gle (a bash­ful Brooks as the Yoda stand-in: “Please, don’t make a fuss: I’m just plain

Yo­gurt!”). I yearn for the day Star Wars com­men­tary was this good-na­tured, in­stead of toxic like... no. Must re­sist re­al­ity. I’m al­most done. 6.10PM ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS From genre par­o­dies to di­rec­tor pas­tiches to sin­gu­lar spoofs, Brooks’ fo­cus gets nar­rower with each movie. The di­min­ish­ing re­turns cul­mi­nate with this un­nec­es­sary piss-take of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves — a movie some might say is ridicu­lous enough al­ready. Cary El­wes is his usual charm­ing self, but the cast is lack­ing in char­ac­ter — my king­dom for a Wilder, a Mo­ra­nis, a Candy, a Made­line Kahn. Maybe I’m all chuck­led out, be­cause halfway through I hop on­line to read some Brexit up­dates for a laugh.


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