Classic Review : What’s Up Doc? (1972)

IMDB Score – 7.8
Rotten Tomato Score – 91%

Directed By – Peter Bogdanovich
Starring – Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neil, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendleton, Michael Murphy, Phillip Roth, Stefan Gierasch, and Liam Dunn

The accidental mix up of four identical plaid overnight bags leads to a series of increasingly wild and wacky situations.

Finally, I am able to return to watching some films that weren’t released in 2013. This year I’m going to try to see as many films as I can in the theater that way I’m not playing this much catch up after New Years. It’s been a busy week for me so I haven’t been able to sit down and catch of with a lot of films. Today however, is a snow day. My home state of New Jersey is under yet another blanket of snow, so I decided to sit down and watch something (hopefully) funny in order to ease into the day.

If you have been reading my writing then you know I’m not a huge comedy fan. I just find more misses than hits so I usually stop trying until I’ve read enough about a film to give it a go. Classics however are always appealing to me. “His Girl Friday” and “Bringing Up Baby” are some of my favorite comedies ever so it’s not a surprise that I ended up enjoying this film, which is a self proclaimed homage to the great screwball comedies of the thirties. “What’s Up Doc?” follows four travel bags that hold entirely different items as they swap owners and cause mayhem. We’ve seen this before, but screwball comedy is more about the sight gags and dialogue than unique story.

Would you believe this is the first film starring Babs that I’ve seen? I hated “Meet the Parents” so I didn’t end up seeing any of the sequels and a road trip film with Seth Rogan just turned me off. I’ll get around to seeing her famous musicals and her Oscar winning debut in “Funny Girl” somewhere down the line. This was my first and honestly I found her adorable. Her character was that perfect blend of quirky and smart that hit the chord with me. She carried the film, which is saying something considering she was partnered up with one of the worst big name actors I’ve ever seen. I just can’t understand why people think Ryan O’Neil is a good actor. The only film he is decent in is “Barry Lyndon” but lucky for him, Kubrick requires a lot of standing and looking instead of reading lines. I mean, everybody has seen this clip right…?

So bad. Maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe the director was a five year old throwing oreos and telling him how to dictate the lines. I just think he’s terrible. He did however manage to prevent this film from going down the toilet and I commend him for that. Other great comedic performances in the film come from Madeline Kahn, who plays the real fiancee of O’Neal. This was her film debut and she nailed the uptight, romance-less control freak, and exact opposite of Babs. Kenneth Mars plays a character very similar to his nazi supporting theater go-er in “The Producers”. His accent and overall douche-iness didn’t get old. Finally the brief appearance of Liam Dunn as the judge was probably the hardest I laughed during the whole film. He was a riot.

The film also boasts one of the most entertaining car chases in film and I’m not surprised. It took up a quarter of the whole film budget. The whole thing was filmed like a less epic version of the chase in “The Blues Brothers” but with Chinese dragons, plates of glass, and the wonderfully steep streets of San Francisco.

It was a very enjoyable film, as most screwball comedies were back when Hollywood had a sense of humor. It’s also one of the rare hilarious films that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


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