IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH MEL BROOKS REVIEW: “History of the World: Part I” stars Mel Brooks (The Twelve Chairs, Hotel Transylvania 2), Gregory Hines (Running Scared, Waiting to Exhale), Dom DeLuise (The Secret of NIMH, Baby Geniuses), Madeline Kahn (A Bug’s Life, An American Tail), Harvey Korman (First Family, Blazing Saddles), Cloris Leachman (Spanglish, The Mary Tyler Moore Show [TV series]), Ron Carey (Fatso, Johnny Dangerously), Pamela Stephenson (Superman III, Funny Man), Shecky Greene (Splash, Combat! [TV series]), Sid Caesar (Vegas Vacation, Fire Sale), Mary-Margaret Humes (Dawson’s Creek [TV series], Broken Windows), Rudy De Luca (Cattle Call, Transylvania 6-500), and is narrated by Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil). It is written and directed by Mel Brooks. A comedic overview of monumental moments/eras of history, including the dawn of man, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution.
Who needs history class when you’ve got “The History of the World Part I”? Yes folks, Mel Brooks made a feature on the various topics of cavemen, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution. If you thought you’ve seen it all with the comedy guy, trust me, you haven’t. Essentially, Mel and his team thought up a bunch of jokes to fit into different moments of history, and brought in Orson Welles to narrate it all. Freaking Orson Welles. How in the world do you get a man like that on this project? You got me. It was said that he was given a week’s pay for a day’s work on the shoot. Figures. This project certainly had to have a lot of money going into it. The production design and wardrobe were amazing, as well as the lighting work and choreography. “The History of the World” even showcased my favorite music number by Brooks thus far, with the hilarious, well-orchestrated performance of The Spanish Inquisition. I myself have been workshopping a musical set during the Black Death, and the fact that Brooks did it back in the 80s on such a grand scale astounded me. It’s truly a scene you have to look up, whether you’re interested in seeing this flick or not. The question is: should you see this movie? As a whole, “The History of the World” is alright. There’s quite a few jokes and moments in here that I got a kick out of (mainly the ones found in the trailer), but there were also times I found myself bored. Brooks and his team do a solid job of putting together three storylines (conflicts in the cavemen, Roman, and French eras), however they don’t hold a candle to some of his earlier works. Why? Maybe because the joke runs stale after a while in certain periods. Don’t get me wrong, this movie, for the most part, is entertaining. The cast they pulled together for this was great (the usual Brooks players) and Brooks himself did some of his best in crafting the characters. There’s even small jokes that are wedged into this storyline that only some people will pick on (depending on how much they know about history or mythologies). If you’re interested in seeing a historical comedy, I say give it a shot. I’d say it’s quality is in line with “High Anxiety” in that it has hilarious moments, but doesn’t match his masterpieces in the long run. What’s even more bonkers is how they title it “Part I” yet had no plans for a second installment; now that’s funny. FINAL SCORE: 75%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: