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Silent Movie  [DVD]
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Directed by Mel Brooks, Silent movie is as good as it's title with the only word spoken being 'No' by the normally button-lipped Marcel Marceau...A director who is having a bit of a lull in his career tries to convince a host of famous actors to star in his new movie - which, surprise surprise turns out to be a smash hit.
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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!
Found out that my shoes smell of wee. Didn't know that, double checked and still nothing. Somehow I don't feel insulted, just surprised how a comment like that is not against policies.
Anyway, back to the topic. It's an alternative, unconventional and even daring movie that can entertain even using just one audible word: "Non!", unpredictably said, or stated, by somebody that's not supposed to speak at all in real life. But this is not real life, it's the realm of crazy nonsense, and everything can be acceptable when you get sucked into it. Insane things keep on happening at a forced pace and you just think -why, that's natural.
90 minutes laugh. Definitely worth watching.
Enjoy it! :)
Appendix: If people like this Wagowan can write here, my guess is that anybody can. And most likely it's a troll, seeing the other comment, by the by. Unfortunately, a voting troll, spoiling some overall results for something that deserves way better.
The plot revolves around Brooks' character, Mel Funn, a movie director who has fallen from grace due to his drink problem. Assisted by Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise, he pitches an idea to studio exec Sid Caesar for a silent movie. Caesar, who gives a good comic performance, rejects the notion until Funn promises to recruit major stars to appear in it. The recruitment of those stars forms most of the remainder of the plot and Funn & co try many slapstick ruses to acquire the services of Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman, Liza Minelli, James Caan, Marcel Marceau and Ann Bancroft, all of whom appear as themselves in the movie.
As with most of Brooks' films, there is too little incidental music, which would seem even more necessary in a silent film, but aside from that it has fairly good pace and some excellent comic moments, James Caan with boxing gloves and faulty trailer is among the best.
DVD quality is excellent.
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An enjoyable romp with Mel, Dom and Marty. Has all the classic hallmarks of a Brooks film and is all the better for that.