Mel Brooks plays a greedy and spoiled rich man who makes a bet with his rival if he can become homeless and survive for 30 days in order to gain his rivals half of a bum area. Our main character must now learn how to survive out in the street with no cash, find food out of the trash can and find shelter to sleep in. Along the way, he makes friends with other bums including a bag named Molly (Lesley Ann Warren). So far I like the plot and it sounds like a film that Mel can do a lot with. Despite having a fun plot is the film funny?
Lets start with Mel Brooks as the main character. I think Mel Brooks brings a great dramatic performance as this character. When I first saw him as this cold and heartless business man in the beginning, I didn't think for a second that this character was ever going to change or become likable. He's probably one of the biggest jerks that I've ever seen on film and Mel does a great and convincing job as this cold and selfish man. When he becomes a bum, I feel pity for him and feel bad for the many cruel things that are happening to him.The scene where I felt bad for him the most is when he's in the hospital screaming and crying how bad life is, that was really great acting by Mel Brooks. On top of it, after awhile he starts to become so likable that you're rooting for him to win the bet knowing that he might have different plans for this bum area. So his acting and character is great but is he funny? Well to be perfectly honest, NO! Comparing his comedic performance to his other performances, it's so poor that you'd probably never guess that he was the master who brought many great comedies. Is his acting great in this film, YES! Is his character likable and well written, YES! Is Mel as funny as we know him, NO!
The supporting characters, are they as memorable and funny as Mel's previous characters, sadly no, they're unfunny and forgettable. Comedic actor Howard Morris as his first bum friend Sailor, is probably his weakest and most forgettable performance, however, with that said, I did feel bad for his character in the end. Theodore Wilson as Fumes is pretty much nothing but a blur in my mind. The rival played by Jeffery Tambor, good god is he an annoyingly unfunny villain, this villain and performance is nothing when compared to villains that Mel Brooks has created. There is however one supporting character who I was attached too and found to be very memorable and that's Lesley Ann Warren as the love interest Molly. Despite being not a funny character either, Warren brings the same powerful dramatic performance as Brooks. She's strong, she's tough, she's lovable, her personality and character is interesting, to be honest I was more attached to her then our star, that's how good her performance is. While the love story seems to be just thrown in, she and Mel do share some good moments together. My favorite scene is when the two are in an abandon warehouse, the two begin to dance together and everything around them goes from looking trashy and sleazy to a beautiful fantasy like dream sequence.
So the acting isn't funny which means the film isn't funny right, yes and no. Granted this is one of Mel's weakest comedies that doesn't carry any of Mel's trademark humor but it isn't as god awful or painful as his following films. I surprisingly found myself very attached and hooked on the story from beginning to end and despite our two leads not being funny they still are likable. Yes the humor is dull but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't myself laughing at the films climax, that was the only funny sequence in the movie and believe me it's all worth the wait. I also found it's morals on life to be very good and moving. Again the film doesn't carry Mel's trademark humor but that's not the reason why it's not funny. Mel's second film "The Twelve Chairs" didn't carry any of his known humor and it was still funny. The reason is because, the story was funny, the actors were funny and seemed to be enjoying their selves and the humor was funny because you can tell that Mel was really giving it his best. Here, it doesn't feel like any of that, it feels like Mel wants to make a drama film but feels forced to put comedy into it since that's what his audience is expecting. The film itself doesn't even feel like he gave it his all, it feels like he's giving up half way through probably knowing that his film is going to flop as a comedy.
Despite failing as a comedy, I'm actually glad I saw it. It's certainly not Mel's best but it's not his worst either. I say it's worth a watch.