April 23rd: One you’d rather forget.

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91. 1941 (Steven Spielberg, 1979)

I’d read that this film was the one that sticks out like a sore thumb in the Spielberg canon. I’d read right. As far as I can tell this is the only time that he’s attempted a comedy and it’s woefully misjudged. Despite a star cast and what appears to be a whopping budget something has gone very wrong in making this particular film. It doesn’t hang together, the slapstick seems off somehow. How badly this is might be open to interpretation, comedy is after all the most subjective genre. But from the opening parody of Jaws I felt a bit bemused by the whole thing. How many directors do a comic re-interpretation of their own smash hit a mere four years after the original? Very odd. On top of this Treat Williams’ character spends the entirety of the film attempting to rape a woman. How I didn’t laugh. Having said all that, there are scenes that work well, particularly the bar fight/dance competition which manages to strike the right note of choreographed chaos. But these moments are the exceptions rather than the rule and the stellar cast goes to waste.

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