Saturday, August 2, 2008

Don't Say a Word: Silent Movie

Better known for such comedic vehicles such as "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein", Mel Brooks churned out this masterpiece-and it may even be better than the other two. "Silent Movie" is an extreme gag-o-rama, filled with many hilarious, witty, and accurately satirical moments that are delightful. The plot: Big Picture Studios is a struggling distributor that needs to make more hits so that it can compete with Engulf and Devour, which is the big cheese of the industry. There to help out the struggling Studio Chief (Sid Caesar) is Mel Funn (Brooks), director, and his two bumbling sidekicks, Marty Eggs (Marty Feldman) and Dom Bell (Dom Deluise). The plan: make the first silent film in 40 years to relaunch the studio and make big bucks. How? Get stars, of course. The celebrity courting scenes (including Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Paul Newman, Liza Minnelli, Marcel Marceau, and Anne Bancroft) are an absolute scream and are some of the best work Brooks has ever done. Anyways, Engulf and Devour is watching the little company grow and decides to send in Vilma Kaplan (Bernadette Peters) to seduce the rising director (who also has a drinking problem). This proves for more hilarious results, and, although this follows a certain formula that Brooks has devised (except with Madeleine Kahn in "Blazing Saddles"), it works well. This leads to the arousing of Funn's drinking problems and, when Kaplan quits E and D, a new member of the Big Picture Studios team. In the end, the shoot works out (and nothing is seen of any of the silent movie in question), and provides for two things: an over-the-top chase sequence (featuring a previous "Coca-Cola" gag as a main feature) and a caricature of a premiere audience that ends up loving the film. Anyways, Brooks is good at endings and hits this one right on target, as he did with the zany and ultra silly fight at the end of "Blazing Saddles." Now, to the message and technicalities: this movie is not only a parody of the moviemaking biz but of Hollywood itself, with jokes about fashion, acupuncture, and star maps. Also, the movie provides laughs in it's idea, taking advantage of being able to put different things on the title cards than what is actually said, plus, allowing for a surprise gag with Marceau that is ironic and very funny. Also, it uses old-time sound effects to also produce mad gags. On another subject, Brooks is good and has a versatile face that works wonders and gets across a lot of expression. Feldman takes up the sidekick role again (he was obviously Igor in "Young Frankenstein") and does it well. Deluise is okay. Bottom line: this film is amazingly funny, and I don't need any more words than that. A

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