For Reel

Young Frankenstein (1974)
October 10, 2016, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mel Brooks
4 Stars
young-frankensteinIf Mel Brooks’ unabashed love for lowbrow comedy can often lend itself to an aggressive, confrontational voice, Young Frankenstein is an oddly sweet film—both in its telling of a man (Gene Wilder) and a monster (Peter Boyle) who are similarly driven by a need to be accepted, and in its loving homage to the history of the genre. When Wilder and Boyle don the suit and tails for their performance of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the film enjoys the dual pleasures of both a well-orchestrated gag and in witnessing two characters allowing themselves to be open and vulnerable for a skeptical crowd. It’s a coming out party.  Similarly, that the viewer can anticipate the joke (Boyle’s howling) matches the film’s own dealings with the joy of the expected—audiences anticipate every story beat due to the familiarity of the narrative, but Brooks and Wilder use this “predictability” to subvert the story in humorous ways (the monster’s interaction with a young girl pays off in an entirely different way than expected). In many ways, Young Frankenstein is a nearly perfect rendition of today’s “soft reboots,” reveling in nostalgia while inventing unforgettable new characters and pushing the themes of the original material forward.

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