I’ve been getting a lot of pleasure lately from the new Blu-Ray Mel Brooks box set, especially in catching up with the two Brooks features I hadn’t seen before, The Twelve Chairs (1970) and Silent Movie (1976). The only gaping absence for me in this deluxe collection isn’t so much The Producers (1968), his first feature, and certainly not his most recent and weakest, Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), but Life Stinks (1991), which in retrospect I may have underrated — and which Kino Lorber is bringing out this July. Which is largely why I’m resurrecting my mixed review of it. This originally appeared in the Chicago Reader’s August 2, 1991 issue. — J.R.
** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Mel Brooks
Written by Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca, and Steve Haberman
With Mel Brooks, Lesley Ann Warren, Jeffrey Tambor, Stuart Pankin, Howard Morris, and Rudy De Luca.
“Tragedy is if I cut my finger. . . . Comedy is if you walk into an open sewer and die.” —Mel Brooks
For a long time now Mel Brooks has been one of my guilty pleasures. It’s difficult to refute the protestations of friends and colleagues about the general feebleness of History of the World–Part I and Spaceballs — his previous two features as writer-director, and the only ones that appeared in the 80s — but there are moments in both films that I deeply treasure, not so much as evidence of a writer’s, director’s, or performer’s craft, but rather as moments that make me laugh hard and long and make me feel good afterward. Read more