IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH MEL BROOKS REVIEW: Last in the marathon, “Young Frankenstein” stars Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Silver Streak), Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond [TV series], Taxi Driver), Mary Feldman (The Last Remake of Beau Geste, Closed Up-Tight), Madeline Kahn (An American Tail, Yellowbeard), Cloris Leachman (The Iron Giant, The Croods), Teri Garr (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tootsie), Kenneth Mars (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Malcom in the Middle [TV series]), Gene Hackman (Superman: The Movie, The Royal Tenenbaums), and Richard Haydn (The Sound of Music, Alice in Wonderland ). It is directed by Mel Brooks, who wrote it with Gene Wilder. As the descendant of a kooky scientist whose work was “complete doo-doo,” Frederick Frankenstein has been questioned whether he is just as mad as his grandfather. Constantly denying his lineage, Frankenstein is soon invited to Transylvania where he discovers the process of re-animation.
“Wait! Where are you going? I was going to make Espresso.” What a way to end a director’s marathon! Out of the countless titles Mel Brooks has directed, none of them have come close to the acclaim that “Young Frankenstein” has received. Loved by critics and audiences alike, the film is considered one of the best parodies as well as highly quoted features. There’s a lot of meat in here for comedy and overall homage to a genre that dominated the box office back in the heyday of the silver screen. So much so that it plays just like a “Dracula” or “Frankenstein” movie, right down to the props. I remember watching this a handful years back for the first time, feeling a bit freaked out because of how it was in black-and-white, involved lightning, and creepy music. Plus, Frankenstein is a freaky dude, so kids are bound to be scared of him (at least the ones who are not in the story). I didn’t laugh at it then, but now I truly appreciate it for what it is: a classic comedy of big proportions. Seriously guys, this movie is presented on a platform as if it was produced in the forties. The cheesy acting, huge gothic sets, and grainy film all attribute to that, and it was all in order to pay respects and ridicule the iconic, silly scripts that were produced back in the day. I retained memory of certain sequences that took place, but there were plenty of jokes that were newly discovered for me. I may have not laughed nonstop like most people claimed, though it did have some really funny scenes, and even so I was thoroughly entertained. The aesthetics of this production was pleasing to the eye, with beautiful sets and costuming that pull you right back to the time I mentioned. On top of that, the music and editing made for a stellar old-styled horror experience. I especially loved the score, which was masterfully crafted. All of the acting, while paying tribute to the old cheesy style, was exceptional. Gene Wilder did it again, this time in the titular role, and was a genius. His delivery and seriousness made for a good laugh in itself. His co-stars were also wonderful, from Peter Boyle to Gene Hackman. My favorite of them all, however, was Marty Feldman who portrayed Igor. He was exceptional and hilarious; I couldn’t help but laugh when he came onscreen and said something. The writers gave him some of the best material, and he served as a great sidekick. What transpired of these characters’ actions made for an engaging, fun experience, laden with unforgettable quotes and gags. Even if you didn’t find it all that funny, you couldn’t help but remember some lines that stuck. One gag I certainly enjoyed was the instance of saying Frau Blücher’s (Leachman) name. Every time it was mentioned horses would whinny because he last name translated to glue. Stuff like that isn’t conjured up in a movie, at least from what I’ve seen. This is the parody that parodies pulled from, whether it be in direct gags or style. It’s a classic and is hard not to watch in amazement. The story itself mirrored that of the book it draws from and some of the films that were made; it had to in order to land with jokes. It doesn’t have much of a structure besides a goal to be reached, but in the process I had a fun time. You shouldn’t take anything seriously in this and once you realize that the more you’ll enjoy it. There’s not a whole lot of physical comedy to make you belly laugh, but there is some that will surely get a rise out of you (one in particular is the fake arm scene). I wouldn’t consider this to be the greatest comedy I’ve ever seen, though it has one of the better stories and serves as a brilliant parody. Mel Brooks was a master behind the camera and in setting it up, with the mind of Gene Wilder who came up with the idea in the first place. This comedy doesn’t run the same speed as most movies do nowadays, so younger audiences may not laugh as much, but if there is one thing they should like, it is the characters and adventure of it all. I loved watching this and would consider it one of Brooks’ masterpieces, if not his greatest work. If you have yet to see it, I’d recommend you to check it out. FINAL SCORE: 93%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: