Streisand & Cast Are Screwball-Hilarious
Matt Howe | Washington, DC | 01/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WHAT'S UP DOC? is a "Streisand" movie, but the supporting players are just as much responsible for its success. I echo the previous reviewer and dare you to take your eyes off of Madelaine Kahn as Eunice. ("Eunice? That's a person called Eunice?") She is absolutely hilarious as she counts to ten, badgers fiance Howard Banister ("as in 'up the...'"), and reads "A Woman's Guide To Sex" in bed -- a hilarious character moment.The script by Buck Henry is full of little comic gems of lines. One of my favorites:"Has anyone ever told you that you're very sexy?" "Well actually, no." "They never will."Streisand is gorgeous with her long hair and tanned body. Ryan ONeal is very good as a bewildered musicologist. Streisand gets a great singing moment perched on top of a piano as she seduces ONeal with "As Time Goes By". There are so many funny moments in this film: the chase through San Francisco, the courtroom scene at the end ("First there was this trouble between me and Hugh." ... "You and me? " .. "No, me and Hugh." ... "Stop that! Make him stop saying that! ") and of course, Streisand in the towel out the window.This is truly a funny, madcap kind of old fashioned movie. I highly recommend it. Let's hope for a crystal clear DVD version that includes all of those hilarious Bogdonovich outtakes -- are you listening out there?"
Remains delightfully fresh after over thirty years
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 11/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WHAT'S UP, DOC? has to stand as one of the finest remakes of a great original ever made. By and large, remakes of classics are profoundly stupid. Although the remakes virtually never match the originals (and admittedly this one is no exception), most are merely pale imitations. Although this one does not come close to supplanting BRINGING UP BABY, it nonetheless manages to bring enough originality to make it utterly delightful. Ever since I first saw it, it has remained my favorite Barbra Streisand film, and is delightfully kooky in a way completely different from the way that Hepburn is kooky in the original. Ryan O'Neill is indeed a pale imitation of Cary Grant, but then, who wouldn't be? But Madeleine Kahn, on the other hand, is a remarkable addition to the storyline. This was, for all practical purposes, her film debut, and she makes the most of it. This was director Peter Bogdanovich's second hit film in a row, following his marvelous THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. The next year he would make PAPER MOON, and for all intents and purposes he seemed to be the next great American director. But then for whatever reason his gifts seemed to desert him, and while he has occasionally reemerged with a decent film, he has never managed to reascend to the level of these three films. He has, however, managed to write a great deal of film criticism, along with one of the greatest collections of interviews with directors ever published. But in this film his direction was fine, and if the comedy towards the end sometimes seems less screwball than Keystone cops, I find it easy to forgive him.I repeat that this is my favorite Barbra Streisand film. I know people are divided on her looks, but when I look at her in this one, I think she is remarkably beautiful, and her personality is so infectious that she manages to dominate the screen every second she is onscreen. She was so superb in this film that I wonder why she didn't try to undertake similar parts in the future. She did the follow up to FUNNY GIRL, but she never really tried anything this goofy again. It's a tremendous loss, because she obviously excelled at it.I'm surprised at how well this film has aged in thirty years. Sometimes you go back and see a film two or three decades after you first saw it, and it can be shocking how aged it appears. I had that experience with both TOOTSIE and ROXANNE, and both now seem hopelessly outdated. But this one, despite the early seventies clothes and decor, remains truly fresh."
"Nothing much to see, really, we're inside a Chinese dragon"
Richard Brennan | Washington, DC USA | 07/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's a smart-zany-girl-meets-absent-minded-professor-and-hijinks-ensue movie modeled on the screwball comedies of the 30's. This is a funny movie for the whole family. And it's now on a great DVD with commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich (the whole movie) and Barbra Streisand (on selected pieces of the movie.) It also includes some behind the scenes footage including Peter demonstrating for Barbra how to seduce co-star Ryan O'Neal in the "Time Goes By" scene.What? You want to know what the movie is about? Well it's about these four identical suitcases, and... oh, let's just let the main character put it in his own words:"My name is Howard Bannister and I'm from Ames, Iowa. It all started when I bumped my head in the taxicab on my way in from the airport. I went to the drugstore for some aspirin and he tried to charge me for a radio because she said her husband would pay for it. But I didn't of course. Anyway, she ripped my jacket and then Eunice, my fiancé, came along. But she kept calling me Steve. Not my fiancé, my wife, or rather the one who isn't my wife. "Well, anyway that night at the banquet she was there again and everyone was calling her Burnsy. That's short for Burns, Eunice's last name. But Eunice wasn't there. Burnsy was there. Or rather the one who isn't Burnsy. That night I went back to my room and she was there taking a bath. Well, Eunice walked in and the drapes caught fire and the room burned and they asked me to leave the hotel. I really don't blame them. Then today, Mr. Larabee asked me to come to his house and to bring my rocks and bring Eunice. Or, rather Burnsy, the one he thinks is Eunice. Is that clear?""No, but it's consistent."That last line is from the judge, driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown and memorably played by Liam Dunn, who I learned from the DVD was a casting agent, not an actor, and this was his first film appearance.This film is full of great lines that you will be repeating to yourself for weeks afterward:"Now don't be nervous Howard, just remember, everything depends on this.""You'll be safe in the bathroom. Snakes, as you know, live in mortal fear of... tile.""Since when have you taken bubble baths?" "It came out of the faucet like that.""So what is the point? The point is, the point is, oh God I've forgotten the point."Doc is that rare comedy that excels both in snappy dialog and physical shtick. And it throws in just about every physical bit you can think of: pie in the face, a keystone-cops-like group of fireman, girl hiding out on the window ledge and getting knocked off but hanging on by her (well-manicured) fingernails. And a chase scene to end all chase scenes up and down through San Francisco streets.If nothing else, the film deserves a place in movie comedy history for introducing us to Madeline Kahn. Here, fresh out of college, Pete Bogdanovich found her at an audition in New York and brought her out to California for this film. And what a talent! She gets a laugh with every line, grimace, and whine and all but steals the film right from underneath Barbra Streisand's nose. And she does it by creating a character that at first makes you groan, but you really get to feel for as movie develops. The other supporting players are all the best of Hollywood at the time and are top-notch.Streisand returned to the screen in this film after a year off, and looks relaxed, tanned and sexy. The script doesn't ask her to do much, other than be herself and use her natural comic talents, which are considerable. She takes old vaudeville shtick (such as "has anyone ever told you that you're very sexy? They never will") and makes it sound fresh.Ryan O'Neal has two things going for him. He looks cute in his underwear and plaid bow tie, and he has terrific chemistry with Barbra. But he comes off as wooden and empty. This is Ryan O'Neal imitating Peter Bogdanovich imitating Cary Grant. Ironically, in the off screen footage included on the DVD, Ryan is charming, sexy and funny between takes. For some reason Bogdanovich has asked him to hide is charm under a bushel to portray this dull professor. (Fortunately, Peter allowed Ryan to redeem himself the following year in "Paper Moon", arguably Ryan's best screen performance.)Fast pacing, snappy dialog, great character actors, funny shtick - What's Up Doc has it all and is just as funny today as it was when it broke box office records in 1972.Back Stage Note: While Barbra was taking vacation, ex-husband Elliot Gould was becoming the busiest star in Hollywood pumping out film after film in the early 70's. In 1971 he was both producing and starring in the drama "A Glimpse of Tiger". Although versions differ, Gould seemed to go out of control, threatening co-star Kim Darby and trying to fire director Anthony Harvey, and finally disappearing for days. Warner Brothers shut down production and tried to recast the picture. Ironically, the star they eventually got was Barbra Streisand who wanted to work with director Peter Bogdanovich. Peter wanted to work with Barbra, but wanted to do a comedy instead of a drama. In a matter of weeks, he and Robert Benton wrote the first draft of "What's Up Doc?". They gave it Buck Henry, who produced the second draft in another three weeks - which became the shooting script. Thus, eight weeks after shutdown, "Glimpse of Tiger" had morphed into "What's Up Doc?" and was filming in San Francisco."
The overused term "classic" definitely applies!
James M. Fitzwilliam | Staatsburg, NY, USA | 02/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of my favorite leisure activities is watching movies at home, and my wife and I have seen hundreds. Yet, "What's Up, Doc?" holds a special place in our heart, and that says a great deal. Madeleine Kahn is whiningly brilliant in her debut role as Eunice The Nagging Fiancee, and even now, when my spouse reminds me of something for the umpteenth time, I will often jokingly reply, "Yes, Eunice." This film also reminds us fondly of my late grandfather, because some years ago we watched it during one of his visits, and all of us laughed until our sides hurt. Every time the secret agent with the golf clubs came on the screen -- even before he DID anything -- it would set off my mom and my grandfather into gales of laughter.This movie succeeds on multiple levels. The characters (especially Howard, the dazed, somewhat helpless musicologist; Eunice, his bossy fiancee; Judy Maxwell, the sweet interloper who attracts mayhem and chaos like a magnet) are amusing and well-portrayed. There is both silly visual slapstick AND brilliantly-written humorous dialogue. Comedy cliches like The Car Chase, The Pane Of Glass Crossing The Street, and people dodging in and out of rooms on a hallway are shamelessly invoked and then taken to a whole new level.And let us not forget that Streisand is a singer! When Judy meets Howard (Ryan O'Neal) later in the film, with a piano conveniently nearby, and she launches into "You must remember this", (prompting Howard to wake up and play the changes, already) her "A siiiiiiiiiiigh, is just a sigh" is enough to melt the most cynical heart. And Streisand's rendition of "You're the Top" for the opening title is positively electric.All in all, it is an absolute crime that Speed 2 is available on DVD, and What's Up, Doc (as of now) is not. This film is terrific in whatever format you can get it, and the minute it is available on DVD, my well-worn cassette of it will be honorably retired! Highly recommended."