One look at the cast list and we knew we had to see it, but I have to say, this is probably not a movie everyone will love as much as we did. And no matter how many superlatives I throw its way, for some folks (like many with us in the theater today) this movie will somehow, for some reason, miss the mark, fall flat, or just make them go “Hunh?”
For my money, though, it was brilliant. It was a perfect piece of craftsmanship. The acting, the writing, the cinematography, the art, the direction, it was all superb, absurd, and totally hilarious.
But humor is such a subjective thing. Ilene and I were laughing out loud through the whole movie–every shot, every scene, every performance was…just…a little bit…off center, over the top, surreal, comic. Every shot had some little bit of business in the background. Every scene had just a little bit of business as an aside. Every line, every angle, every bit of costume and set design was thoroughly thought out, and it was all both spot on for the period (1965) and subtly heightened, exaggerated, and lampooned.
This is, I think it fair to say, a movie goer’s movie. You have to have an appreciation for the craft to get many of the jokes, whether it’s the nearly clumsy camera work (each tracking and pan shot started with a little jerk and went a little wide of the mark at the end) or the nods to other movies (I dare you to watch the flood and not think of “The Shining”).
But even if you aren’t a devotee of the cinema, I still recommend it. The deadpan performances, the stiff-limbed gestures, all evocative of a school play or church pageant, are there for laughs, and the characters that populate the story are unique, memorable, and priceless. When Bill Murray comes into the room, half naked, bottle of wine in hand, goes into the closet, takes out an axe, and announces, “I’ll be out back,” it’s a marvel of understated comedy. And the movie is chock-a-block with moments like that.