Monday, June 1, 2015

Matilda (1978)

The first 10 minutes of Matilda feel like a drug hallucination. First, aerial shots of New York City are paired with the dreary, melody-challenged ballad “When I’m With You I’m Feeling Good,” sung by the father-daughter duo of Pat and Debby Boone. Next, jocular Scotsman Billy Baker (Clive Revill) rides a bicycle to his pub beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, then addresses the camera and begins telling the story of the movie, which is depicted in flashback. Here goes: Billy arrives in Manhattan accompanied by Matilda—a gigantic kangaroo played by a man wearing a patently fake-looking kangaroo suit. When Matilda excitedly punches out a hot-dog vendor and causes a riot, police seize the animal. To address this situation, Billy buys a copy of Variety and answers an ad for bottom-feeding talent agent Bernie Bonnelli (Elliot Gould), who shares an office with his vituperative uncle, boxing manager Pinky Schwab (Lionel Stander). Because, naturally, the best ally when trying to save an animal from euthanasia is a talent agent. And so it goes for the remaining 90-something minutes of this astonishingly stupid crime/sports comedy, which was presumably made for young (or lobotomized) viewers. Photographed with the garish lights and hard shadows of a cheap horror flick, Matilda features several actors who should know better—Robert Mitchum shows up as a sportswriter—as well as many weak players who operate at the same level as the storytelling. (Here’s looking at you, Roy Clark from Hee-Haw.) The narrative piles idiocy upon idiocy, with Matilda becoming a sensation in the boxing world and also the center of a sting operation designed to capture mobsters. Meanwhile, everyone in the movie tries to pretend the Matilda costume isn’t as embarrassing as it is ridiculous. Slapstick bits sputter, verbal jokes thud, and the contrived rom-com banter between Gould and costar Karen Carlson is lifeless. All in all, it’s a wonder this film wasn’t picketed by the ASPCA—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Audiences.

Matilda: LAME


greg6363 said...

When AIP started to produce bigger budgeted movies, this atrocity was one of the numerous duds which led to the demise of the studio.

anamul said...

nice movie