Monday, June 19, 2006

The Cocoanuts (1929)

"Don't throw that, it's for long distance."

Genre: Comedy Musical

Starring: The Marx Brothers - Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo (Duck Soup; A Day At The Races)

Directed By: Robert Florey (Murders In The Rue Morgue; The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra), Joseph Santley (Down Mexico Way)

Overview: At a poor new beachfront resort during the Florida land boom, we find the Brothers as attempted scapegoats for the robbery of a valuable necklace.

Acting: Having seen a couple Marx Brothers films already, I had no idea that they could get even less funny and even more painfully embarrassing. I know silver was expensive in the depression era, but that doesn't mean when someone stumbles over a line, they shouldn't be asked to do it over, does it? Was film that much of a commodity that we are made to suffer in this fashion? Oh and the director didn't know what he was doing, because all the other actors seems like stuffy mannequins too. Ugh!

Groucho flubs that should have meant a retake: 3
Rating: 3

Cinematography: Nice sets, too bad about all the people in the way. Whether it's at the beach, in the lobby, at the dining room, while playing the harp or in the bedroom scene, there's no real originality to the filming but hey at least there was this:

Random Choreography numbers for no reason whatsoever: 3
Rating: 5

Script: Oh I get it, everything you say is a pun. Remember when you were four years old and you figured out how funny puns were? Remember when you were an uneducated farmer in a dustbowl who saw a movie for the first time in 1929 and it was the Marx Brothers? Seriously, this really does NOT have to be one of the era's best memories. Let the same dumb joke die after 6 times already! "Viaduct!" "Why a duck?" I get it, drop it! Holy infantile, Batman!
Rating: 4

Plot: The best this 90 minute film has to offer is the 15 minutes of genuine plot: a conniving couple plan on stealing a valuable necklace and pinning it on some or all the Marx Brothers. Hilarity ensues, or so it's supposed to. Instead we have overrated immature children running around eating phones and cracking gags because when people are throwing themselves out of windows and starving to death (The Great Depression), even this can be considered a 'good time'. It’s all relative, I guess.

Wasted film for a musical number: 4 (worst of all, three of them were the same bad song, only one was mildly amusing)
Rating: 6

Mood: Uh, what the hell was Zeppo even in this one for? He's like the extra guy who cashed in on the fame of the rest. What a waste of space. I guess family went a long way for these four... In all fairness he felt his talents wasted in this one. Just let me add this: apparently this movie was considered so bad by the Marx Brothers that they offered to buy it, so they could burn it.


Scenes that were gags simply for the sake of filling time: 1
Rating: 5

Not even one bellboy gag, surprising I know.

Overall Rating: 46% (I'm-A Nuts For-A Watching This)

Aftertaste: This is one of their earliest works, and their Vaudevillian background is still strong in this one. Imagine two decades of people going to see a musical, then finally sound appears on film. What a better way to convert the old musicals lovers than to constantly make movies with musical numbers! What a great day for Squish!The more I watch, the more I think these guys are just a gimmick that don't translate well at all 75 years later.

Maybe in 2081, Quentin Tarantino will be considered a bad person for making crime film. Maybe he's be reviled. Maybe in 2081, they'll be able to revive his frozen head and put him in virtual jail...