Alphabetical Movie – It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

We all have them, right?  The movies that we are supposed to like but we just…don’t?

Take Ben Hur, for instance.  Man do I dislike that film.  That awesome chariot race?  It’s definitely better than the pod race in The Phantom Menace but that is faint praise indeed.  I just think it’s long.  Really long.

I don’t dislike It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World the way I dislike Ben Hur but try as I might, I sure don’t like it.

As a movie lover, it almost feels unfair.  I feel like I’m missing out because I don’t love a film so well regarded by so many.  I keep telling myself that if I watch it just one more time, maybe I’ll see the what I’ve failed to see every other time I’ve watched it.

I mean, my kids like it.  They like it so much that they’ve sat through the film multiple times.  Heck, when it was time to watch it as part of the Alphabetical Movie Project, I told the kids and they were genuinely excited to watch it with me.  That was great for them.

So why did I consider watching it such a chore?  I’ve watched far worse films as part of the Alphabetical Movie Project and I will watch far worse ones.  Heck, I like some of those films more than this one.  Hardly seems fair.  Why would I be more interested in watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull than I would be in watching It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World?

There’s no excuse for that, is there?

Except, try as I might, I can’t find a sympathetic character in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  I may not be nuts about most of the story decisions in Crystal Skull but I still like Indiana Jones.  I want him to get away from the bad guys.

What do you with a movie where the last thing you want is for anyone in it to get what they want?  Maybe I want Spencer Tracy to get the loot.  Maybe.  Mostly I keep hoping that they’ll get caught.

And they don’t get caught.  For three damn hours they don’t get caught.  The film feels more like an endurance test than anything else.

Yet I keep beating myself up over the fact that I just don’t like this movie featuring – well – most of the best comedians of their era since I really feel like I should like it anyway.

If I wasn’t a movie buff, it wouldn’t bug me, I think.  I’d be comfortable that I don’t have to like every highly regarded film.  I’d be content to think that Ben Hur is boring and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World is not very funny and way too long. As it is, I keep trying to find what I’m missing.

Thing is, that is a good quality.  I keep trying to find what everyone else sees in good movies.   Sometimes, one of these movies gets through to me and I finally see what I’ve been missing the whole time.

I had such a moment watching 2001: A Space Odyssey in a movie theatre.  Once I saw it on a big screen, the movie finally made sense to me and I understood why it was considered a masterpiece.

I’ll be honest, though.  I don’t think that’s going to happen with It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

Oh well.  At least my kids like it.

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

4 responses to “Alphabetical Movie – It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”

  1. Chris Mortika says :

    I can’t be sure, but I *think* IaMMMMW was the first motion picture to feature what really was an All-Star cast like that. (Usually, “All-stars” means “no stars”.) If so, it made a name for itself on spectacle rather than quality.

    One element that surprised me that last time I watched it, was that none of the actors — and you’re right, these are comedians at the top of their game — seem to be having much fun. I’m not talking about the characters. You can tell that the guys in Ocean’s Eleven (either version) are enjoying themselves making the movie. Not so here. The movie manages to be both mad-cap and dreary at the same time.

    It is, however, a godsend to people playing a 6-Degrees connect-the-actors game. Want to connect Zazu Pitts to Brad Pitt? Larry Fine to Lawrence Fishbourne? This is the movie you need.

  2. Scott Keever says :

    I cannot agree more with your assessment of the film…However, I have to add that, really, most critics have felt how you felt about IAMMMMW – at least, most of the critiques that I’ve read; it’s certainly never been held in the same esteem as Ben Hur..It’s been described as loud, obnoxious, boring and overwrought…I can certainly see how kids like it – I think *I* even liked it as a kid…and the film geek in me definitely loves to see Jimmy Durante in opening scene…but overall, yeah, couldn’t agree more with you…

  3. Pat Ocken says :

    A couple points: MMMMW was made in the early era of television — movies now had to offer something you couldn’t see on TV. What this offered was relatively grand scale and, as M. Mortika said, an all-star cast. Additionally, it was filmed in Cinerama. (Google it, young ones.) The original IMAX. The destruction of the gas station, the thieves all flying off the fire truck ladders — all was made to be seen in grand scale. Imagine the early ’60s, people: a big TV screen was 15 inches in diagonal, I kid you not. 15 inches. with rounded edges and of course, black and white. MMMMW — and Ben Hur, for that matter, were the equivalent of the wonder YOU felt in the ’70s when the first Empire ship drifted “endlessly” across the screen in Star Wars Episode IV

    • Petsnakereggie says :

      Yep. Yep. I get all that. I know what Cinerama was. Widescreen was a response to the growing influence of Television as well. My first TV was a 12″ black and white. I don’t think we had a color TV until I was around 10 years old.

      Thing is, I can watch Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark or Alien on a small screen and I still admire the film. While the big screen definitely improves 2001: A Space Odyssey, I just don’t think it would do the same for MMMMW.

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