Silent Movie (1976)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Parody/Spoof, Slapstick, Absurd Comedy  |   Release Date - Jun 17, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Craig Butler

Silent Movie is not Mel Brooks's best film, but it may be his sweetest. There's a touching innocence about most of this film, as well as a sense of playfulness that's rather endearing. The trio of characters at the core of the film are essentially childlike in nature, and with no "dialogue" to speak of, there's little room for the raunchiness or crassness that is often found in other Brooks films. (One notable, and hysterical, exception, is the reaction of the Engulf & Devour Board of Directors to Bernadette Peters' Vilma Kaplan. Brooks uses the title cards to good effect, as when Marcel Marceau's ringing phone is accompanied by a "Sonnez" title card or when some clearly off-color remarks are translated in a bowdlerized version. And, of course, there are a plethora of sight gags, some of which work, some of which do not. (The ping-pong game on the life support screen being a good example of the former.) On the down side, too many of the gags are a bit predictable, and the episodic nature of the piece makes it drag somewhat. The very sweetness of the film also seems to water down the humor somewhat; there are not as many laughs as one would expect from a silent movie comedy, especially with this cast. Still, it's always enjoyable, and Brooks deserves credit for trying something as different as a silent movie in the first place.