(1966)3.5Craig ButlerHailed as a masterpiece upon its release, The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! has lost a lot of its punch over the decades, but is still a funny and entertaining film. Part of it is inevitable; Russians was very much a product of its time, and with the end of the Cold War, much of its humor has become dated. But the movie also suffers a bit from the same comedic elephantiasis that affected its screenwriter's earlier It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: the cast is a bit too large, the film is a bit too long, and the plotting is a bit too needlessly complicated. In addition, the humor of the film is too often mild and gentle when it seems to be striving for bigger laughs. Russians' cast, however, could not be beat. Alan Arkin gives a sterling performance, one of the sweetest and most appealing comedic portraits of the decade. His timing is impeccable, and his humanity is crucial to the film's success. Carl Reiner's playwright, the other sane voice in the town, is also wonderfully realized, and he makes the sequence in which he is tied to Tessie O'Shea one of the film's highlights. Although Eva Marie Saint is rather wasted, Brian Keith, Theodore Bikel, and Jonathan Winters all shine. If Russians is not a masterpiece, it's still an excellent opportunity to experience some very fine comedic acting.
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The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! (1966)