Friday, February 11, 2011

Young Frankenstein: A Classic Review

I have a real problem with Young Frankenstein. I can't stop watching it. No really. I can't.  I snatched it up at the store for a great price 2 years ago, having never seen it, but knowing of its legendary status. I also don't need to know anything more than "Mel Brooks" to buy a DVD.

Chantale and I watched it once, enjoyed it thoroughly, and moved on with our lives.

One night before bed, I pulled it off the shelf out of boredom with my usual bedtime selection, and popped it in. In the dark, by myself, I enjoyed this movie much more than I had the first time. Wait, not like that. Get your head outta the gutter. I mean with no distractions, I saw it for its true genius.

Brooks has mastered the spoof genre, and no filmmaker can even come close to his talent anymore. I should point out that Brooks directed, but Gene Wilder wrote the script and starred.

The story follows Frederick Frankenstein as he inherits the estate of his deceased Grandfather, the famous loon who did the crazy experiments and shamed his family. Fred doesn't pronounce his name the same either, more like Frahnk-en-steen, to distance himself from his family history. This joke runs throughout the movie, prompting Igor (Marty Feldman) to claim mockingly that his name is pronounced Eye-gore. "You're puttin' me on!"

With the help of Eye-gore and a beautiful lab assistant named Inga (Teri Garr), Frederick sets out to understand his Grandfather's work, and gets himself fully wrapped up in it, creating his own monster (Peter Boyle), much to the chagrin of the traumatized townspeople.

The movie is chalk-full of classic Frankenstein references, as well as an older, subtler brand of humour that you just don't see anymore.

When the monster breaks out (sorry I ruined it) he goes on a bender through the town and shenanigans ensue. Actually, it's some physical humour that films have been lacking lately. This includes a visit to a poor blind man, played by a young Gene Hackman, wherein the monster is the subject of various classic gags such as hot soup in the crotch.

Shot in black and white for effect, Young Frankenstein achieves exactly what it was meant to do -- make you forget you're watching something from the 70s. The work that went into sets, props, costuming, and even the lighting and shadow, are ultra impressive. Wilder has even mastered the attitude, gestures, and slight nuances of an old-timey scientist, and he doesn't forget to add the hokey stuff that made the original great. "Give my creation LIIIIFE!"

With added characters like Frau Blucher, naaaaayy, (played by Cloris Leachman) the housekeeper, and Madeline Kahn as the fiancée, you won't be bored, even for a moment.

I've now watched it about a billion times, and I notice something new and hilarious every time. I highly recommend this black and white gem, but I caution you to watch it with your eyes wide open, as well as your mind. You don't need to have seen the originals to find this was amazing and funny. Just take it for what it is. A comedic masterpiece.

Have you seen it? What did you think?


Sammy V said...

Fantastic review. I was just commenting on CTCMR about how I loved Young Frankenstein when I saw it years ago, but haven't seen it recently.
I think Young Frankenstein will make a good Sunday afternoon flick.

Thanks for your amazing blog, girls!

Angie said...

Do a re-watch and let us know how you felt about it.

and thank YOU Sammy! :)

Tom said...

One of the great comedy classics. I love the scene where Gene Wilder tells them to not unlock the door no matter what he says when he goes in the cell with Frankenstein. His subsequent reaction always makes me laugh.

Sam said...

Classic! Cloris Leachman was so classic in this movie. And she still makes me laugh today! Did you see her in the Network Solutions Go Granny video?