The Explosive Review – What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

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Somebody with an attention span disorder (aka 90% of today’s young audience) will not be able to tolerate a clever plot like this one. There’s four identical bags – One cotains a bunch of igneous tambula rocks which belongs to Dr. Howard Banister (Ryan O’Neal), a musicologist from the Iowa Conservatory of Music, along with his very annoying and overbearing fiance, Eunice Burns (Madeline Kahn). They have arrived at San Francisco in hopes of winning a grant funded by Frederick Larrabee (Austin Pendleton). Howard’s theory revolves around how ancient man may have used rocks to create music. Challenging him for the grant is the uptight, dubiously-accented Hugh Simon (Kenneth Mars).

     The second bag belongs to Judy Maxwell (Streisand), filled with her clothes (a dictionary included). Everywhere this girl goes, trouble goes along right with her. Car accidents and confusing scenarios galore. Being a college drop out, she happens to be very intelligent and can talk herself out of just about anything she gets herself into.

Bag number three belongs to Mrs. Van Hoskins (Mabel Albertson), a rich old lady who stores her extremely valuable jewels in the bag. The fourth and last bag contains some top-secret government documents that belongs to the mysterious Mr. Smith (Michael Murphy), who has obtained them illegally with the intention of going public. Rivaling him is the mysterious Mr. Jones (Philip Roth) who happens to be a government agent who’s mission is to get those documents back to where they belong.

     It’s movies like “What’s Up, Doc?” that reminds us that good comedy actually exists out there amidst all of the saturated garbage. The film pays homage to the genre of screwball comedy that ran rampant mostly in the 1930s like “Laurel and Hardy”, “Bringing Up Baby”, the Bugs Bunny cartoons, among others. In fact, it is a remake (in a way) of “Bringing Up Baby”.


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