It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world

10:07 AM

Money, money, money, money, money, money, money, MO-NEY!

I rented It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world because I just realized I watched many parts of this movie but I had never really seen all of it. Then I remembered why. The movie is over two and half hours.

The dialogues are really funny and make it worth while though. The physical comedy and the endless car crashes, on the other hand, do get a bit tiring.

Because of this, It's a mad... won't have that much appeal to modern audiences. Compare those phony fights, with Will Ferrell punching a baby in his new movie (around 2:40). Actually, compare the whole two hours of  It's a mad... with the two excruciating minutes of that trailer - am I the only one deeply disgusted by it?

This is exactly why we've got to give it to  It's a mad... - it is incredibly ambitious. It's more than two hours. It has 10 main characters. It has a lot of special effects*. All possible comedy stars alive are in it. (According to IMDB, it became known the director was hiring every comedian he could think of. Some famous stars even contacted him to volunteer for the movie, or to ask why they had not been contacted). 

How did they pull this last one off, by the way?  There were no ego trips. Meanwhile, Eddie Murphy, Mike Meyers and Adam Sandler went on to play more than one character (if not all) in a movie.

But the most unique aspect of the movie is the plot. Several people are ready to do what it takes - really, whatever it takes - to get their hands in some easy money (and screw others in the process).

There's so much potential for drama here. Do you remember that Woody Allen movie, Melinda and Melinda, where he tells the same story as a comedy and as a drama?

It's a mad... has a lot of potentially dramatic scenes. Like the one where Melville, the dentist, is trying to convince his wife to get in a 1916 plane just to get ahead of the others. He lies and basically risks his life and that of his wife for money. In how many dramas do we see characters risking their families lives for money?

Or the scene where Cap. Culpepper is devastated because of his money and family problems and just stares at Mexico in the map. He embodies that idea that money is an escape of all your problems, which is probably shared by all the characters in this movie and the audience. After all, we never get to know what they will do with the money or why they wanted it so badly.

We only know the motivations of two characters, Cap. Culpepper and Emeline, but it seems that everybody's motivation is the same. They think money will solve their problems. Don't we see that constantly in dramas too?

The theme of what people would do for money is very universal and one that has been explored constantly in dramas. It's a mad... could have easily turned into a tragedy, but it didn't. Why?

Take a look at the ending. Spoiler alert, baby. (Sylvester rules).

I read in IMDB that the end disappointed many, but it's still an excellent one. They get caught and no one gets the money. This is perfect because it's realistic (plus, enough with the movies where the bad guys get away with things).

In a similar and more recent movie, Rat Race, the people who spend the whole movie running around after money end up giving the money away to charity - just like that.

Can we possibly believe that people who were ready to do anything to get that prize would give it up so quickly, without resisting or rationalizing it? In It's a mad..., one of the characters in the end says they deserve the money because they "suffered a lot" for it.

Rat Race's end is politically correct and unreal. It's just the writers wishfully thinking: "maybe they will magically copy the characters' generous behavior just like we magically turned petty characters into generous ones".

It's a mad...  doesn't spare the characters but it spares us. The characters will probably go to prison but we don't have to. During the movie we (more or less) sympathized with the characters or at least cheered for some of them. I particularly liked (and pitied) Cap. Culpepper.

In the end they don't get the money and end up seriously hurting themselves. None of their previous problems is solved. The only break they get is laughter. Their ultimate consolation is comedy.

This is why It's a mad... didn't turn into a drama. The director and all those comedy starts share the idea that ultimately it's better to laugh it off. I imagine that's the reason why all those stars wanted to be a part of this movie in the first place, because they all think the same way, they agree with what the movie is saying.

A lot of people have the wrong impression that comedians are easy going people that see the world through rose colored glasses. Quite the opposite. Many times, comedians are very pessimistic, troubled people. (There are many examples to this, but you can see a fictional one in the character of the comedy producer in Melinda and Melinda, or a real one in Woody Allen and his nihilistic outlook on life).

A person doesn't become happy go lucky once he becomes a comedian. It's just that he chooses to see life differently. Melinda and Melinda's tagline is: "life can be a comedy or a tragedy, it all depends how you look at it."

It's a Mad... recognizes that we do live in a mad world full of greedy people, but it reminds us that ultimately there are things we can laugh at.

Did you like It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world? What are your favorite lines and characters? 

* Some extra info via IMDB:

The scene where Melville accidentally knocks the blowtorch into the stairs with the sledge hammer took 86 takes to get it just right.

For the intermission of the premiere engagement at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, the filmmakers recorded messages supposedly sent over police radios describing what was happening to various characters. These messages were played not only in the auditorium during the intermission, but out at the concession stand and even in the bathrooms. 

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  1. Yes, I did like it. By the way, as far as I can remember, it was the very first movie I saw at the movie theatre (now, a supermarket). I remember laughing my heart out with this movie. Long time, no see, though. I don't know which my reaction could be today, some 50 years after. BUT ... I remember Jerry Lewis' car running over Culpepper's beloved hat. And Mickey Rooney's & Buddy Hackett's plane going INTO the airport waiting room. I'm sorry, there's no comedian/comedienne worth of this name nowadays.

  2. This was the first movie you saw in the movies?! That's so cool. It must have been a great experience.

    Jerry Lewis' scene is classic. It's so funny to keep spotting the comedians in their little appearances.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. I haven't seen this movie acutally...but the screen shots and what you have described sounds pretty interesting.

  4. I recommend it, it's a very funny and light-hearted comedy. xx


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