Anthony's Film Review
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Here is a comedy that is undeniably hysterical and uproariously funny...
If making a comedy film is like baking a cake, then the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World would be analogous to a giant cake overloaded with sweet flavor. It's a big treat guaranteed to satisfy your appetite. It also has sweeter flavors towards the center so that each progressive bite is more pleasing than the last one. By the time you're done, you'll have a big smile on your face. Then you'll tell other people to taste it if they never have.
Let's start with the ingredients. This comedy does not have one or two well-known stars along with many minor cast members. Instead, the movie goes beyond, stuffing in as many big names as possible: Spencer Tracy, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Phil Silvers, Don Knotts, Dick Shawn, Ethel Merman, The Three Stooges, Jim Backus, Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis, etc. Next, put these people in various roles, including (but not limited to) a married couple, a second married couple with a screaming mother-in-law, a truck driver, two buddies in a convertible, a British cactus collector, a police captain, the screaming mother-in-law's son, etc. Oh, and don't forget a few quick cameo roles.
Next, it's time to mix the cake. The first scene of the movie is what sets the whole thing in motion. A man crashes his car off a mountain road. As the occupants of four vehicles stop to help the victim, he tells them that a treasure is buried under a big W. Then he dies, and the other characters drive off. Well, not in separate directions. The same direction. You see, they cannot ignore the possibility of buried treasure, so they stop and argue about it. Then the film really goes full speed ahead with a bunch of zany situations, including fast driving, reckless driving, getting trapped in a basement, risking death in airplanes, and fighting at a gas station.
The movie is quite funny with this kind of setup, but it's even funnier when you have the actors just go over the top. This is why the screaming mother-in-law is funny even if she's annoying. In addition, one of the airplane scenes is hysterical because two characters on the plane don't stop panicking. This scene in particular also benefits from being drawn out. In other words, you laugh for a while, then some more, and when you're ready to stop, you don't because the scene keeps on being silly. Expect to see this with the gas station scene and the film's last half hour that is truly worth waiting for.
As you can tell, this is a very funny movie. It's remarkable that Stanley Kramer could be a master at directing this comedy, not just drama films like Inherit the Wind. I also agree with, and am not surprised by, the inclusion of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest movies. You should not miss it if you love over-the-top slapstick and physical comedy. Overall, I was not disappointed. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is truly a mad, mad, mad, mad comedy.
For more information about It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, visit the Internet Movie Database.