Not many film comedies, especially from the 1940s, would open in Hell, but that's how Hellzapoppin gets off to its zany start. It isn't really Hell, of course, but it's still a starling thing to see in a studio film of the period, and if only Hellzapoppin had stuck strictly to this kind of surprise, it would probably be a film that many people know, rather than one which is rarely shown nowadays. Unfortunately, the powers that be saw fit to saddle this revue with a vapid, irritating storyline, and that diminishes the fun somewhat; still, even with this storyline, the creators manage to have some fun, as when the romantic dup interrupt their wooing to tell an audience member that he needs to go home because his mother is calling him. When Hellzapoppin is "on," it's similar to one of Mel Brooks' wackier efforts, and the humor is infectious. Even when its jokes don't really land or land with a groan, which is actually fairly often, it's still entertaining, because it's simply daffy. The style of the humor, and of its main creators, Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, won't be for everyone; but those who tune in to it will find Hellzapoppin fun and flighty.
by Craig Butler review