Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non!, 25 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Silent Movie [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
They stopped making silent movies eons ago -- or as my brother puts it, "Movies with no talkin'."

But Mel Brooks revived the genre somewhat with the hilarious "Silent Movie," which spoofs two things: those over-the-top old silents, and the nastiness of the movie industry. Full of slapstick and star cameos, this is Brooks stretching his comedic talents... and nobody can hear it.

Former alcoholic Mel Funn (Brooks) is seeking a comeback, and he pitches a silent movie idea to the president of Big Picture Studios, who unsurprisingly rejects it. But Funn swears he can get some stars to star in the movie. So he and his friends Marty Eggs (Marty Feldman) and Dom Bell (Dom DeLuise) go on a slapstick recruiting drive, relentlessly pursuing Liza Minelli, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, and Anne Bancroft.

But they still have a problem -- the evil Engulf & Devour is planning a takeover of Big Picture Studios, and so they don't want Funn's movie to succeed. So they send sultry nightclub singer Vilma Kaplan (Bernadette Peters) to seduce and distract Funn. Will he fall off the wagon? Will the movie get made?

Since obviously there's no dialogue (except a "non" from Marcel Marceau), Mel Brooks has to drop most of his verbal gags in here, in favor of lots of visual ones. Instead, a lot of the comedy comes from that wild, overdramatic acting style that people used before movies had sound. And giant chocolate bars.

So, it's slapstick galore -- pratfalls, wild exaggeration, and crazy reactions to everything. And there's some mockery of the cold-blooded way Hollywood moguls act. Nobody wants Funn's new movie because it's wildly different and risky, much the way "Silent Movie" probably was -- and it leaves you wondering just how Brooks recruited all these actors.

And Brooks spoofs other stuff related to movies, such as theatres (note the "Trash Can Size" popcorn, with butter poured on by a GAS PUMP). In fact, it doesn't take long for Brooks to cross the line into total craziness, as evidenced by the climactic battle between the good guys and bad guys -- it involves throwing soda pop grenades. Who'd have thunk it?

Brooks, Feldman and DeLuise are all obviously having a great time, playing these relentlessly over-the-top characters, especially when they're doing things like lurching around in suits of armor. And the cameos by various actors are fun, especially Reynolds and Brooks' real-life wife Bancroft.

If comedy had a sound, "Silent Movie" would shatter all the windows. While Brooks can't exert his verbal comic skills, he almost makes up for it with all the delicious spoofery of old movies and Hollywood. Non!
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