Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rest in Peace Gene Wilder

Looking over my movie review list, I see that I haven't reviewed any films by Gene Wilder on this blog.
But I've always considered myself a big fan.  And in my youth, long before I started regularly blogging, I saw and enjoyed many of his movies:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a big part of everyone's childhood back in the 1980s.  (It's probably out of date now, but in my childhood teachers would routinely show this movie at elementary school whenever we got a movie day.)

Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are of course both classics.

Start the Revolution Without Me is one of those movies I only saw because it was on TV one afternoon and I was bored.  The movie itself wasn't that great, but I remember getting some laughs out of Gene Wilder's over the top delivery.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) is a movie that it is mixed (some of it works, some of it doesn't).  I'm not sure Gene Wilder's part in the movie is the best part.

When I finally got around to renting Bonnie and Clyde sometime in the early 2000s, and I remember being surprised by Gene Wilder's brief part in the movie.  "Oh right!  He's in this also!"

And...huh, is that it?  Strange, I thought I had seen him in tons of stuff.  But going through his IMDB page, I've only seen him in a handful of movies.

But I was always impressed with him in the movies I did see.


Darrell Reimer said...

Strange - the sheep scene is the only part of Everything that I remember. I thought it was enjoyably goofy, which pretty much sums up Wilder's work as a whole.

Joel Swagman said...

...I'm probably due for a re-watch of this movie before I jump into a debate about its merits. It's been like 15 years since I've seen it.

I do remember thinking that whole sheep scene was way too long for a one note gag, and not really enjoying it all that much. But was it goofier and better than I remember it? Quite possibly.

I also have to admit that, like you, it's one of the only things I really remember about that movie.

Darrell Reimer said...

It has a pace you'd never manage in a movie these days, and we see it in that scene for sure. But that pacing also allows for some of the funniest material to get out. For instance, he gets nearly half a minute of silent time to process the news that his new patient is in love with a sheep.

Nevertheless, by the time he's reduced to drinking Woolite, I'm ready to move on -- to another movie, really.

Joel Swagman said...

Okay, I just clicked the link, and re-watched that clip. And yes, that half a minute reaction shot of Gene Wilder was brilliant. And that slow look of dawning realization on Gene Wilder's face demonstrates his comic genius. So point taken.

But when I first saw this movie, the brilliance of that reaction shot was overshadowed by me groaning and thinking: "Not another 'The Farmer is fucking the sheep' joke. That joke was old when Juvenal did it."

But the movie acts like this is new and fresh material, and then runs it into the ground.

Of course, none of that is Gene Wilder's fault. He wasn't the writer, he was just the actor.

Darrell Reimer said...

That's the comedic temptation, I think. Will Ferrell is the chief offender on this front. If something is funny, he'll repeat it on the heels of the first time. Funny -> Amusing. Then a third time. Amusing -> Annoying. Then again. And again. Like watching The Aristocats once wasn't twice too often.