I Saw A Film!

It could be my love of Peter Falk, or my devout adoration of Madeline Khan (or the hard ginger beers I picked up at Wholefoods), but I found this light comic spoof of Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and Bogart noir in general, to be an absolute delight. I don’t get to say that very often, and so I’m thrilled to be able to tell you that this clever film, penned by the often lauded Neil Simon and performed by some clever talent, is almost as absurd and pleasantly surprising as a Monty Python romp. I had a few genuine laughs, laughs I did not have at all during many other so-called comedies I’ve subjected myself to in recent months. What does this say about me? Does it teach me anything I can actually put into words? Perhaps, I can lock down on what it is that makes me laugh. Of course, surprises, when our lovely club singer is introduced and she flows out onto the floor with the swelling music singing, “Lalalala” you’re expecting at some point she’ll break into lyrics, but no, it’s just “lala” all the way through. And the boldness of this silly joke worked for me. The dialog is fast, and takes no pauses for you to catch up. Many of the best laughs are just weirdness embedded in the classic detective chatter. When Falk tries to get Khan to give her name, she produces a new one each time she opens her mouth. It provides an amazing schizophrenic weirdness coupled with her earnest face that is both captivating and ridiculous. It’s not puns, thankfully, but bizarre twists on classic exchanges that we’re all familiar with. The song the house pianist is ordered never to play again is an unexpected and universally familiar child’s song, and it works well.

Lots of characters are murdered, but even this is played for hilarity as the victims are somehow left in wacky poses leaving us relaxed about the meaning and horror of the murder. We know we’re watching these actors in a game, and they play it magnificently. Also part of the fun is the resemblance this crew of clever actors manages to pull off to our culturally familiar thrill. For example, John Houseman does the Sidney Greenstreet thing perfectly. I’ve read that this is actually the second in the series of old movie spoofs, I’ll have to look for the one they did for the old Charlie Chan fun.

There is some goofy, Monkees level slapstick to deal with, but we’re offered so much to digest that we quickly forgive the lowest of the brow efforts. And with favorites like Abe Vigoda and Fernando Lamas and Eileen Brennan you simply can’t go wrong.

Free on the Amerzone primes.

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