The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy, Farce, Odd Couple Film  |   Release Date - Oct 28, 1970 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

The very amusing The Twelve Chairs is probably Mel Brooks' least demented comedy. Fans looking for the same off-the-wall sensibility that pervades Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein might be a little disappointed, although there certainly are moments that should please them (such as when Dom DeLuise opens his window after pulling into a Siberian train station to confront a mountain of snow or the chase sequence that leaves him stranded atop a mountain with no way down). But on the whole, Chairs is in a more standard-comedy mode, and those who approach it with this in mind should find plenty to keep them entertained. As director, Brooks is in as measured a mood as Brooks the writer, and that (relatively) relaxed feeling gives Chairs some surprisingly leisurely moments. Rather than letting the energy sag, this gives the viewer some time to concentrate more on the characters than the jokes. Unfortunately, this is one of Chairs' weaknesses; the characters are not poorly drawn, but they could use a tad more depth to really engage the viewer. Fortunately, Brooks has rounded up an appealing cast that more than makes up for this little deficiency. If Frank Langella lacks the comic energy that one associates with Brooks, he still has the commanding presence required by the part. Ron Moody is in fine form as the former owner of the title chairs, making the most of his predicament when told to sit by Langella and pulling off the difficult ending with great skill. And DeLuise, given the showiest part, takes full advantage of that fact. If Chairs does not reach lunatic heights, it still is disarming and enjoyable.