Friday, October 12, 2012

Young Frankenstein Movie Review

I enjoy funny movies a great deal. However, I don’t like most “comedies” very much. Comedy movies tend to have incredibly juvenile, crude, and often vulgar jokes though out. This results in movies that are flat out stupid rather than humorous. I pretty much boycott any of these so called comedies that star actors like Jack Black, Will Ferrell, or Adam Sandler. The only good funny movies tend to have the term “Family Film” used to describe its genre. There are a few comedy gems that stand above the rest as good comedies; one of them is Young Frankenstein (1974).
Determined to live down his family’s reputation, Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) insists on pronouncing his name “Fronckensteen” and denies interest in replicating his grandfather’s experiments. After inheriting the castle of his deceased grandfather, he takes the train from New York to Transylvania where he meets his new lab assistants, Inga (Teri Garr) and the wall-eyed Igor (Marty Feldman). Dr. Frankenstein is lured into his grandfather’s private study by the castle’s strange matron, Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), where he finds a tantalizingly titled journal “How I Did It.” Unable to resist, the three set out to replicate Frankenstein’s grandfather’s experiment. This involves a little grave-robbing and a trip to the conveniently local Brain Depository.  Igor accidentally picked up the wrong brain and the resulting monster (Peter Boyle) tears off into the countryside, terrorizing a little girl and a blind hermit (Gene Hackman). The villagers are still reeling from the last five times this has happened, so Dr. Frankenstein, Igor, and Inga try increasingly silly plans to recapture the monster before the villagers discover what they have created.
The infamous comedy director Mel Brooks wrote and directed this hysterical masterpiece with comedy actor Gene Wilder as a co-screenwriter. Between the two of them, they’ve formulated a truly funny movie. It is full of slapstick and physical comedy, running gags, puns, and quirky, silly characters.  There’s even a funny scene where Dr. Frankenstein and The Monster do a soft-shoe number in black tie and tails. Brooks once said that, “My movies rise below vulgarity.” Having seen some of his other movies, I’m a bit skeptical. However, there is less crude humor and sexual innuendos than in most of his other films.
Young Frankenstein is better crafted than some of Brook’s other films. His other movies are great, but they seem frantic and desperate to get you to laugh at something. That could be because of the movies Young Frankenstein is spoofing. It’s satirizing Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), some of the most influential films of their genre and some of the best of the 1930’s Hollywood horror films. Brooks uses some carefully controlled black-and-white photography and camera techniques as well as old-fashioned visuals and special effects to captivate the feel of the classic horror films. He even used the original Frankenstein laboratory set in this film, complete with zaps of electricity and elevating platform. It’s almost like a respectfully satirical salute to the old 1930’s horror films.
Young Frankenstein is such a comedy classic that Brooks adapted it into a Broadway Musical by the same name. It’s won several awards including the Toronto Film Festival Award for Best Comedic Film. The comical “walk this way” gag even inspired lyrics for Aerosmith’s hit song “Walk This Way.” It’s also #13 on American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest American Movies. It’s really created a lasting and well deserved legacy for itself.
I highly recommend seeing Young Frankenstein. It’s funny, it was really well written and directed, and was phenomenally well acted. I’d say this is probably alright for kids age 10 and up; most of the crude humor will probably go over their heads. It’s a great Halloween movie, especially if you aren’t into slasher-type Halloween movies; it’s a funny comedy that I’m sure most anyone could enjoy. It’s probably worth owning, but I’d only watch it once a blue moon. If you’ve seen it too many times to have memorized all the jokes and comedic timing, it will lose some of its charm.

What is your favorite comedy movie? Why do you like it so much? Comment below and tell me all about it!

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