Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Animal Crackers (1930)

For a boyish mute, Harpo can get downright creepy, man

Genre: Comedy Musical

Starring: The Marx Brothers (Monkey Business; Duck Soup)

Directed By: Victor Heerman

Overview: Captain Spalding returns from his African expedition in time for the great unveiling of the famous Beaugard painting, but sinister plots about when thieves want the painting for themselves.

Acting: Hey Groucho, ARE YOU ACTUALLY READING OFF A CARD? Are you serious? What made these actors think they were doing some crappy television show? Harpo's misogyny and purity of annoyance hits an apex in this one too. Not only does he chase after women, but he gropes them, sits on them, wrestles with them, punches them repeatedly in the stomach and shoots at them in the head with a rifle. Ha ha, domestic violence was never so drole... Zeppo has something like 4 lines, again proving that he's a useless member of the team, apparently much to his own chagrin. The other actors are still stuffy, but not as much as I've seen previously.
Rating: 5

Cinematography: Alright so we have a nice big fancy house, rote camerawork and a piano number where Chicho does his usual trademark fancy finger work, and Harpo does, you guessed it, a harp solo. I read that the man was self-taught and he learned himself wrong. Either way, at least it was professional.
Rating: 7

Script: "You go Uruguay and I'll go mine!"

Imagine a movie that is just this kind of joke all the time. You're damn right it gets old, but there's actually less groaners in this one than in any other I've seen so far. Does that mean I'll give it a nicer score because I'm comparing it to itself? No.
Rating: 5

Plot: This one opens with four musical numbers in the first seven minutes. Isn't that just grand? And I'm not talking anything good either. I guess the fact that there's just one more musical number is pretty good for a story that was originally a musical play. All those parts were a waste of film if you ask me, but the plot is at least a touch more present in this one, even though the actual story doesn't even get resolved properly...and of course, far too perfectly.
Rating: 6

Mood: The best part of this movie was the fact that they repeated the name of Groucho's character about 20 times. His name is Captain Spalding. Those of you who are horror fans will remember the name of the old sicko clown in House of 1000 Corpses and Devil's Rejects, played by Sid Haig. That's right, Captain Spalding. Every mention of the name brought me back to a better time than the movie I was watching. If you're into the whole Marx Brothers shtick, this is actually one of the better less musical more comedy kind of films. It's passably fine.
Rating: 6

Groucho ain't the only Gropey Guss, sheesh

Overall Rating: 58% (Just Plain Cracked)

Aftertaste: The first time I ever heard of the Marx Brothers, the person who introduced it to me told me how much bigger these guys were compared to the Three Stooges, how they were considered high-class comedy compared to the slapstick style of Larry, Moe and Curly. Please. The Stooges are so much funnier. Physical comedy is better than terrible puns, no?!