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The AFI calls Mel Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES one of the “Top 10 Funniest American Movies of all Time” and I remember loving it as a child and watching it over and over again. It had been many years since I’d seen it and, given that my kids liked SPACEBALLS and were amused by YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, I thought they would get a kick out of it.
Boy, was I wrong. My son was upset that I wasted his time and my daughter kept on asking me what exactly was supposed to be funny. I know this may seem blasphemous, but I had a hard time answering my daughter’s question. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I was a little unclear myself, as some of the humor just didn’t work for me anymore.
Comedy is subjective. What’s funny to one person is not to another. But I always held BLAZZING SADDLES in such high esteem in my mind that it was one of those comedies that transcended all and was just intrinsically funny.
I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a parody of the western with goofy characters, absurd physical humor and farts! Who doesn’t like farts? There’s also a dose of social commentary on race.
But sadly, as I watched it, I cringed every time the “N” word was used (as did my kids who were utterly appalled by it and threatened to rat me out to my wife who is conveniently out of town on business), and I scratched my head a lot as the jokes that I once thought hilarious in my childhood, now just sat there on the screen like wet noodles.
Now mind you, there is still some comedy gold in the film that made me laugh out loud, but not enough as I hoped. This viewing unfortunately tarnished my opinion of the film, even as a desperately tried to put myself in the context of when it was released.
In my opinion, comedies should be timeless and many are. I still laugh when I watch such “classics” as SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), DR. STRANGELOVE (1964), ANIMAL HOUSE (1978), AIRPLANE! (1980) or more recently, A FISH CALLED WANDA (1988). All the Monty Python movies are still as sharp as they ever were and this is why it was a crushing disappointment that BLAZING SADDLES just didn’t stir me like it used to.
I dare not suggest that it is a bad movie, it just didn’t hold the same magic for me as it did in my memory. But if you are a fan of comedies you need to see BLAZING SADDLES at some point before you die. You might like it.
Now excuse me while I once again apologize to my son for squandering his valuable TV watching time the other night showing him a movie that I promised would be funny.