Bert Rigby, You're a Fool (1989)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 24, 1989 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

Robert Lindsay made such a huge splash on Broadway that it was inevitable that Hollywood would give him a chance. Unfortunately, that chance was the sluggish, ill-focused Bert Rigby, You're a Fool. Lindsay isn't the problem. Although his unique charm is not captured by Rigby, and although he pushes much too hard, it's still easy to see that the man has talent. And even with an apparent unfamiliarity with screen acting, Lindsay manages to come across as a friendly, likable personality. Unfortunately, although Carl Reiner was obviously impressed with this star, he also obviously didn't know the proper way to showcase him -- either with his writing or his directing. The screenplay is all wrong; it's too contemporary to work as the kind of film it seeks to pay homage to, yet it retains entirely too many old film clich├ęs to work as a contemporary film. The excessive (and uninspired) vulgarity simply doesn't work, and the jokes are a long way from funny. Reiner's direction is equally inept; he can't decide if he's sincere or satirical, there's an inconsistency of style and tone, and he can't provide the kind of visual flair that the musical numbers demand. That the film is watchable is due to Lindsay; his efforts to find a way of translating his talent and appeal to the screen provide enough of a reward to keep the viewer tuned in.