Truth to be told, after the years of hearing the praise surrounding Young Frankenstein, I was expecting this to be wildly more funny than what it actually ended up being. Too much hype, was I too stern with it or did I not just get the sheer comedic brilliance? Perhaps a combination of all mentioned three things. It certainly isn’t a bad movie by any means. I did still enjoy it immensely, it just didn’t make me fall in love with it like I expected. I had fun, I simply did not feel particularly captivated by it. This is something that I find myself more and more experiencing and foolishly trying to combat against. Part of me wonders if this is something you inevitably undergo when you grow older. Do you just become grumpier and grumpier as the years accumulate atop of each other like the unstable, shaking Tower of Babel, so that eventually you simply can’t find enjoyment in the simply things like you did when you were younger, or is this the unfortunate side-effect of devouring huge amounts of fiction and amassing such a long and multifaceted back catalog of consumed media in your brain that your standards for what counts as good inevitably hone and become arbitrarily high and esoteric that as you seek new, exciting experiences, they become increasingly few and far between to be found? Sometimes it feels like it’s a bit of both.
As already established, I did enjoy the movie. Despite not wooing me, it is still very funny, but it’s not quite as madcap or hysterically amusing as certain other Brooks movies which is why it falls a bit short for me. I think I was expecting something more in the line of To Be or Not to Be or History of the World, part I. That said, what it lacks in outlandish gags that make you burst in laughter, it more than makes up in atmosphere and style. Appropriately enough the entire movie is shot in black and white, and it really manages to capture the magical vibe of the old Universal horror films.
There are some really good, out-of-the-box thinking jokes in here. For instance, the idea that Dr. Frankenstein’s way to introduce his creation to the public and win over the scientific community is by performing and old fashioned song and dance number with top hots and tails is pretty absurd, and hence brilliant. It also works wonderfully when the number doesn’t go as well as it could have and the angry audience starts to throw spoiled vegetables at the stage. Another favorite of mine is the way Marty Feldman’s hump keeps changing which side it is, something that Feldman did on his own at the set until somebody noticed and it was made into an actual joke in the finished movie. There is a certain noticeable electrifying passion to the movie that helps to elevate it above certain other comedies from the same period, that clearly comes from the passion thst went to making the movie.
I should be kinda used to seeing cameos of famous actor in old movies I haven’t seen before but Gene Hackman’s cameo was still bit of a shock to me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s hard to describe why it is, but it just feels so odd to me to see him in a small, comedic role in a Mel Brooks movie. He’s quite good though. He plays a small part in the scene that parodies the blind man in the cabin portion of the original Bride of Frankenstein movie. There’s a boatload of great little gags in this scene, like the blind man repeatedly pouring hot soup on the monster’s lap. You could have done with a bit more variety with the jokes, but for what it was, it was quite good.
I could very well see Young Frankestein growing on me with repeated watch throughs, so it’s likely that with time I too can some day list it as one of the funniest comedies around. For now however I must only file it under humorous but not that exciting overall movies. Maybe one day I’ll be in the mysterious ‘in’ crowd that consists of the people who absolutely adore the movie.