Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Nice Mess (1972)



If online remarks about this obscure comedy are any indication, people were so eager to laugh at Richard Nixon’s expense during his campaign for a second term as U.S. president that the few cinemagoers who caught Another Fine Mess in theaters recall it fondly. Alas, time has damaged this film more than Nixon’s infamous CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President) ever did, if one believes allegations that CREEP helped prevent Another Fine Mess from being widely exhibited. Written and directed by Bob Einstein, who cut his teeth writing for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (Tom Smothers produced this movie), Another Fine Mess portrays Nixon and his vice president, Spiro Agnew, as old-time comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. Literally. The actors portraying Nixon and Agnew mimic the comedy duo’s slapstick antics, with Nixon incarnating the grumpy Oliver Hardy while Agnew represents the idiotic Stan Laurel. To hammer the analogy, Einstein periodically cuts to film clips of the real Laurel and Hardy. Stupidity reigns in Another Nice Mess. A running gag involves Secret Service agents disguised as ferns, and one bit features agents reacting to out-of-control flatulence. In the most elaborate scene, Agnew delivers so many offensive malapropisms during a state dinner that he causes a visiting dignitary to declare war. And in the “highlight” of the movie, Nixon and Agnew get wasted on pot-laced cookies. Throughout Another Fine Mess, the jokes are obvious, the performances are weak, and the production values are pathetic. It’s also confusing that masterful mimic Rich Little has top billing, since it’s not clear whether Little portrays Nixon throughout the film; the actor with the most screen time does a weak approximation of Nixon’s voice, whereas another actor appears as Nixon in brief interstitial bits, commenting on the movie as it unspools, and that performer gets Nixon’s voice right. Anyway, sorting out who did what isn’t worth the trouble, because this dated flick is a comedy footnote at best. Einstein later portrayed daredevil character Super Dave Osborn, and fellow Smothers Brothers writer Steve Martin plays a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it supporting role.

Another Nice Mess: LAME

1 comment:

Groggy Dundee said...

This movie's a six year old's idea of political satire. Not only the segments you mention, but little kids throwing bricks at Nixon and Hitler offering Nixon's secretary marijuana.