When it comes to Mel Brooks, I don’t know if I can call myself a fan. Of the two major films of his I’ve seen, I liked The Producers, and absolutely hated Blazing Saddles, so it seems it’s up to Young Frankenstein to swing me one way or the other. This black and white reverential ode to the original classic, and the horror genre it helped spawn, definitely has at least one thing going for it; the mood. Once the film gets into it, it is quite pervasive and effective; though not really effective in a horror sense, but more in a parody sense. That’s about all I can say in praise of the film, however; consider me squarely pushed into the camp of “not a Mel Brooks fan”, and I will consider The Producers a fluke exception in that regard.
The first thing I was pretty easily able to pick up was the humor. It bashed me over the head with a cement brick until it was convinced I got the joke, then it moved on to the next brick. I wouldn’t say the film’s humor is telegraphed (yes I would), but on at least half of the so-called jokes, I actually said in my mind what was coming before it came, and thus was the film’s humor inevitably lost on me. I appreciated some of the references and even some of the parodies of the original Frankenstein film, but this being a comedy, my primary concern was whether or not it was funny, and this was just flat out not funny for me at all. The one part of the film’s humor I did enjoy was the absolutely perfect portrayal of Igor by Marty Feldman. It is distinctly British, and wasn’t campy is the slightest, but dead on in every way; whenever he wasn’t on the screen, I languished in the film’s so-called sense of humor until he reappeared and gave me something to enjoy.
I really tried hard to place what it was about The Producers that I liked, to verify that I didn’t just hate everything Mel Brooks put in front of me, but I honestly couldn’t place it. There was just something about it that worked that didn’t work at all with Blazing Saddles or this film. Oh well; I don’t have much of an appetite for comedy anyways (see any of my reviews for screwball comedies), so I guess I should’ve known what I was getting into with this one. But dammit, I gave it a fair and honest shot, and the film sadly let me down. Or I let it down. One or the other, I’m not sure which. If you’re a fan of Mel Brooks’ other work and haven’t seen this one for some inexplicable reason, you should probably go ahead and do so, but if this film is in any way not your thing, don’t look at me if you go ahead and try it and find it distastefully bland.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10