Thursday, October 18, 2007

Movie Review: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

I guess I'm not really into musicals that much, so it's a good thing that this one is mostly movie and not so much musical. There's only a few songs, and none are particularly memorable aside from the overture-of-sorts, "Comedy Tonight". This is one of those farces that keep piling on the subplots and complications for its fast-talking lead, and keeps the funny one-liners coming at a quick clip. "Let's see...who do we know that's dead?" "You'll never learn, you'll be a eunuch all your life. " Definite echoes for the later Roman segment of Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I.

It's too bad the whole thing falls apart by the end. The writers appear to have written themselves into a corner and so came up with one of those wacky chase scenes that pop up frequently in these 60's comedies, this one done on chariots. That couldn't have come directly from the Broadway version (but then, I've never seen it, so I don't know what else was changed). The chase scene never really works; just a series of bad visual gags that end up with everyone captured - where the conflicts are resolved in about two sentences, and then the movie ends. Oh, well - it was very good for the first hour or so.

Plus you get to see Buster Keaton doing stuntwork at age 70, and a brief cameo by the future Doctor #3, Jon Pertwee. So, certainly a fine effort all around - four stars.

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