Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein ★★★★★

I'm filing Young Frankenstein under 'I started watching it when I was younger but didn't finish it for some reason and I'm obviously a knob for not finishing it because it's effing fabulous'.

There are a number of reasons why Young Frankenstein is such a completely splendid film and I think several of them remain overlooked. Sure, its downright silliness, brilliant performances and just sheer number of belly laughs are integral to it being easily one of the funniest films that I've ever seen, but its other strengths not only improve those aforementioned elements but also lay bare the reasons why so many, if not all, modern spoofs just do not get it.

Most integral of all is the fact that Young Frankenstein, in a number of places, is actually a pretty faithful and accurate adaptation of the original story in its own way. Mel Brooks clearly has a huge amount of affection for the original story and indeed the original film and that comes across in almost every way that he puts together his film. He has made this just as much a tribute as it is a parody.

That is what these hopeless twats like Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer and, unfortunately these days, David Zucker completely miss when they're squatting down and turding out their latest splat of cinematic cack. They don't really have any affection for what they're parodying - there is no feeling for the original stories or films because for the most part they are usually parodying what was already completely laughable in the first place.

Someone should lock these pea-brained arseholes in a very small room and play them Young Frankenstein on a constant 24 hour loop with no bread, water or adequate toilet facilities until they fucking well get it. Of course, they never will but after a while they will become very ill indeed and that should hold them off making films for at least a little while longer.

But it's that affection for the source material that drives so much of what is great about this film. Brooks has gone out of his way, for instance, to make Young Frankenstein look the absolute part. This is a stunning looking film, absolutely beautifully shot with a complete grasp on everything that made the original so chilling in the first place. He then steps back, sees any comic potential in that framework, and goes for it. And it works pretty much every single time as well. He even manages to wring a couple of really good cock and poo gags out of it as well. I have to respect that.

That's not to say that all the aspects of the film that are usually praised are not worthy of such praise because they clearly are - however, I do think there is far more to this film that makes it work than it is given credit for. When you look at the performances in this, for instance, it does expose the Academy Awards for the shambles that they are that neither Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn or Kenneth Mars especially did not get acting nominations at the very least. Proof if ever you needed it that comedy and Oscars will never be allowed to really mix.

It's absurd, really. Wilder is so fantastic here that the subtleties of his performance and the ease with which he reigns himself in from over-reacting to the silliness going on around him are easily as good as anything I expect to see when it comes to acting in any film that I see for a long time. This is even better than his Blazing Saddles turn. Mars, meanwhile, channels a little bit of Dr. Strangelove with his uncooperative arm but is absolutely marvellous in the film's daftest role - dafter even than Marty Feldman and his moody hump.

Kahn, however, is extraordinary. Here is someone who DID almost break through the Academy Awards' aversion to rewarding comedy films and performers for their work, most notably when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Blazing Saddles. So brilliant was she that she earned this nomination for not much more than an extended cameo. She should have got one for this as well. A complete grasp of verbal and physical comedy as well as all the timing and performance ability in the world, she packs everything into another pretty small role. She was a truly fantastic actor.

It even shows us what we might have missed in Gene Hackman not taking more outright comedy roles as well. As far as film comedy goes, Young Frankenstein is almost flawless in everything it sets out to do. Its warmth for what it is saluting and lampooning just adding further good faith to just how damn funny it is and how it knows when to just kick things on a bit and be REALLY silly.

The last time I saw Brooks in anything was in this episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee wearing a Young Frankenstein jacket and revealing how he spends every evening watching Jeopardy with Carl Reiner while they have their dinner. That alone made me love him even more than I already did, but after Young Frankenstein I just wish he was my grandad.

🇵🇱 Steve G liked these reviews