24 May 2011
I put this on specifically because I remembered it being harmless and funny, and I thought it would be light enough and silly enough that I'd likely fall asleep to it. Unfortunately, it's well enough paced with enough charming nostalgia-inducing faces (Reeve! Ritter! Mark Linn-Baker and Julie Hagerty! Carol Burnett and Marilu Henner! even Denholm Elliott!) that I never quite drifted off. It was a foolish idea -- something as clockwork choreographed as a stage farce was never going to let up long enough for me to turn away. It's not hilarious, but it's funny enough to work. And it's not brilliant, but it's clever enough to stay with.
Ultimately it's too stagey. For one, it's obviously a 4th-wall-challenging stage play trapped in the 4th-wall-less world of cinema, so it loses a lot of its punkish energy. But for another, it never quite feels like the actors want to be any more involved than they would be if this were the goofy, breezy play-within-the-play. I know it's a light-hearted comedy and about as far from character-driven material as you can get, but there's a lack of investment or nuance to any of the characters or performances here that feels a little... winking. The physical parts are brilliant -- and the timing is impeccable -- but the actors are maybe acting a little too much like actors playing actors actings, if that follows.
Anyway, it's a fun cast. It's a silly play. It's an amusing movie. It means almost nothing, goes almost nowhere, and wraps up in the most horrid "oh shit it's over, well here's a happily-ever-after capper because why not" way. But apart from that last bit, the cleverness and physical comedy and the joy of seeing some underrated comedy actors from my childhood era made it all a more pleasant than unpleasant experience. Is it a great movie? nah. A good one? maybe, just. But I liked it. It wouldn't let me sleep when I wanted to. That's something.