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The Bottom Shelf #112

06.14.2007

I doubt there's any way that I could open this week's set of reviews any easier than saying that I like funny men. So with that, I give you two prime examples of funny men at their best. (Oh, and I'd also like to eat crow and apologize for bashing SURF'S UP in last week's installment. I actually liked the movie. Go figure.)

CRAZY PEOPLE (1990)
Directed by: Tony Bill, Barry L. Young
Starring: Dudley Moore, Daryl Hannah

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --
 

Movies like this one, though rare, are one of the many reasons why I have a problem with the MPAA. While I completely understand that there are great 'R' rated comedies out there in this world that have legitimately earned that rating, it is in the use of the word 'f*ck' (oddly enough the word is also censored on this website, mainly due to advertising restrictions associated with the use of certain "foul" language) where I question the delineation between something being an 'R' and something being a 'PG-13.' Most of the young people that I know have heard the F bomb dropped more times than they've heard the word "fascism," let alone been told its meaning. So when there is a sweet natured comedy, free of nudity, violence or excessive toilet humour that just so happens to contain the F word more than once, I say the MPAA needs to seriously reevaluate the way that they rate all movies.

CRAZY PEOPLE is about an advertising executive (Moore) who suffers from what could have more easily been defined as a nervous break-down. When he decides to latch onto the concept of truth in advertising, turning in mock-ups for companies in which truths like "Volvos: Boxy, but good," and "Metamucil: We help you go to the toilet so you won't get cancer and die.," his company declares him mentally unstable and sends him off to a mental institution. (Man, would I ever like to work for that company. Great health benefits and no firing? Sign me up!) At the institution he meets up with the ethereal Daryl Hannah as well as a group of appropriately quirky crazies.

While there are times when the movie drags, mainly in dealing with the romance between Moore and Hannah, it has a great shine to it as a whole. I was worried when I went to watch this movie again. I'd liked it a lot when I was a teenager and after rewatching some of the movies that I had fond memories of only to discover that they should have remained memories, I was concerned that the film would lose its luster in my eyes. It doesn't. Buoyed mainly by the extremely funny blurbs that are used in the ad campaigns as well as the multiple inflections of the word "Hello" as delivered by David Paymer, CRAZY PEOPLE is one of those 'R' rated comedies that should have been more of a family flick. Too bad too many people try to pretend that their kid hasn't heard "f*ck" before.

Favorite Scene:

Seeing the ficticious movie "The Freak" garner hordes of people for its premiere under the premise that it will "F*ck you up for life!"

Favorite Line:

"I'm going to run me down some Caucasians today."

Trivia Tidbit:

John Malkovich was originally cast in part of Emory Leeson, but walked off the set due to personal problems.

See if you liked:

THE DREAM TEAM, ARTHUR, ROXANNE

FUNNY FARM (1992)
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Starring: Chevy Chase, Madolyn Smith Osborne

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --
 

Chevy Chase is a dignified looking man to me. Perhaps it's because he reminds me of my dad, someone who (although I needle him constantly) I have a great deal of respect for. So it's always been striking to me how well Chase plays the bumbling idiot. Watching old episodes of Saturday Night Live when he parodied Gerald Ford (especially the Xmas episode with the tree) are where you'll find the most laughs from Chevy. Seeing him slip, fall and stumble about all while keeping a straight face is a kind of comedic genius that can't be taught. Even funnier is when he breaks down and goes wild-eyed, the symbol of what we all can relate to whenever we lose our cool.

FUNNY FARM came towards the end of Chase's successful career, a phrase that I use lightly considering that he's continued to work up until recent years. But if you can consider CADDYSHACK 2 and COPS AND ROBBERSONS to be "successful," I'd love to have you do some creative work on my taxes. We get to see the last of Chevy's dignity in this film as he portrays a sportswriter who has decided to buy a home in the country with his wife and write a novel. As most fish out of water stories go, things do not turn out the way that he intends, the locals are all nut cases and life is not so simple.

You have to wait awhile for this movie to get going. It has a slow start, something that I attribute to the transition of the characters from urban to rural life. In the city where everything is planned, it's hard to factor in surprises. In the country, you're on nature's time. Patience isn't a virtue that many of us have anymore, but if you can stick it out until the middle of the flick, there are some solid laughs in the traditional Chase manner. Even better, this movie doesn't reduce him to being the butt of the jokes as his more recent movies have. He maintains some of that straight faced dignity, something that too few of the latest screwball comedies can do. Chase is a legend and it's too bad that he's no longer revered as such. Perhaps he should move out to the country as well.

Favorite Scene:

When Chase tosses hot coffee out his writing room window onto the chirping bird outside. Although I might have found this even more amusing simply from my daughter's earnest reaction of, "That was mean!!"

Favorite Line:

"What's going on, Andy? You're sinking into a pit of self-pity, defeatism, and alcohol... and you're enjoying it!"

(As all good writers should, eh?)

Trivia Tidbit:

Jay Cronley, the man who wrote the book that this movie is based on also wrote the book that the movie QUICK CHANGE was based on, a movie starring Chase's nemesis Bill Murray.

See if you liked:

DOC HOLLYWOOD, THE GREAT OUTDOORS, MONEY PIT

I'm sure there are just as many funny women out there as well, but someone watching a woman take a prat fall just doesn't resonate with me the same way. Perhaps because I know the pain of that reality. Perhaps I'm just a sadistic bitch who prefers to get her jollies from watching men take the fall. Hmmm...

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