This is it. The last film review of the Summer Film Challenge 2012. Did we end the Challenge strong, did it simply sputter out and die, or was it so bad that I finally lost my mind and this article is currently being written by a ghost writer while I spend the next ten years in a cushy room? Only one way to find out.
This film was easily my favorite of the challenge. Why? Well, it had a lot going for it from the start. First, it was an old movie, and everybody knows old movies are so much better than new movies. (Kidding, everyone! Kidding!) Second, it was a screwball comedy. I freakin’ love screwball comedies! To me, there is no funnier sub-genre of comedies, simply because the good ones take full advantage of the fact that they’re comedies. Not only are the premises and situations the characters find themselves in hilarious, but so are the characters themselves. A good screwball comedy doesn’t waste any of the tools it has in its arsenal, using both the story and the characters to maximum comedic effect, and this one is no exception.
The story revolves around a rich, spoiled socialite named Irene, who needs to find a “forgotten man” in order to win a scavenger hunt and beat her older sister. She encounters a man named Godfrey who lives in the city dump. After a short conversation with her, Godfrey finds her to be charming, though odd, and agrees to help her. Though when he is brought to the collection place of the scavenger hunt, he berates all the socialites there for essentially being frivolous idiots who have no regard for anyone but themselves. Irene feels bad for making him feel that way and so offers him a job working as her families butler, which Godfrey gladly accepts. What ensues is pure comedic gold! A homeless butler goes to work for an insane rich family. That is a fantastic premise from which so much comedy can be mined, especially when its paired with memorable characters, which this movie has in spades. Comic legend Carole Lombard plays Irene and she is phenomenally funny, and William Powell as Godfrey is the perfect comic foil to the rest of the family. He takes everything in stride, barely raising an eyebrow at the wacky goings-on in the Bullock house, but when his eyebrows do raise, it’s timed perfectly for the greatest comedic effect.
I really miss screwball comedies like this. While there are still great comedies that are released today, it seems that the modern screwball comedies have been focusing their energies on the cheap farcical nature of the screwball comedy, rather than making the characters funny. They seem to go halfway. They come up with a decent premise, but don’t follow through with smart, likeable characters. I’ve found that a lot of the characters in comedies nowadays are obnoxious, stupid, and completely unlikeable. This isn’t the case with every comedy, but certainly a great majority of them. I don’t understand why filmmakers think that smart, likable characters can’t be funny anymore. Yes, the characters in Godfrey were more than a little crazy, but they at least had some semblance of intelligence. And the characters that were obnoxious and unlikeable were relegated to the background, because that’s where they can best serve the humor. Let me explain what I mean by that. There is a character in Godfrey named Carlo, an Italian slob who lives with the Bullocks and acts as Mrs. Bullock’s pet, for lack of a better word. All he does all day is lie around, eat things, occasionally play piano, and complain. This character gets some of the biggest laughs in the film, not because he’s constantly shoved into the audiences faces, but because he’s put into the background and keeps distracting the main characters from whatever they were talking about. The humor comes from the characters’ reactions to Carlo, rather than Carlo himself. The things he does isn’t funny, so much as the way the characters react to him is funny as well as the way he reacts back to them. And the pay-off that happens with Carlo and Mr. Bullock is absolutely hilarious and perfectly executed.
I don’t really have much else to say about this film besides to heap more praise on it. It’s one of the classic screwball comedies and really understands how to use comedic premises and characters to full effect. This was my favorite film of the Challenge and really made me want to watch all of the old screwball comedies! I guess it’s only appropriate that I saved the best for last!
Final Rating: 10/10
And thus Summer Film Challenge 2012 comes to a close! Thank you all for joining me on this cinematic journey and I hope you all will stay tuned for some new stuff that I’ll be posting…
No, I don’t think so.
I-I don’t know what you’re talking about. TV show? I really don’t think you know…
Okay! Fine! Yes, I was supposed to also watch the TV show Pushing Daisies for this challenge, but haven’t been able to finish watching it due to lack of time, a bunch of other things that are on my plate, and the fact that, for some reason, I just haven’t been able to find the motivation to consistently watch it, which is really weird since I really really enjoy it when I’m watching it but I haven’t been able to be consistent with it. Someday I’ll finish it, and when that day comes I’ll review it and post it here. Until then though, as far as I’m concerned, the Summer Film Challenge 2012 is done and I will be moving on to other things for a while. So, things you can expect from me in the future may include a new retrospective series exploring the careers of famous filmmakers yet to be titled, Tyler and I are working on getting a weekly podcast off the ground, I will be posting something on the upcoming awards season and with that my top 10 films of 2012, because, let’s face it, there just aren’t enough of those around, are there? (Sarcasm). Anyway, thanks again! Looking forward to what’s to come!
Also, here’s a link to all of our SFC reviews of the last year, in case you missed them and want to check them out. Bye!