Monday, November 18, 2013

The Cheap Detective - Simon (Movie)

Did I mention it's crammed with stars?

I feel compelled to begin this week's review with a transparent warning that this may, in all actuality, not be worthy of being called a "great movie." I say that not because I feel that way, but because friends and family have long assured me (mostly by falling asleep before even reaching the halfway mark) that it isn't any good. I however, love Niel Simon's bizarre spoof of old film noir classics like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.

I don't know what to tell you as far as what you should expect going into this film. At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical conessour of art that actually has no idea what he is talking about, I want to say that the charm of this movie is that it is at once understated and over-the-top. It wants to be a "straight" parody as well as a farce, and I feel like it succeeds on both counts. It is in many ways a scene-for-scene rip off of the classic films it mocks with endearment, but the tounge-in-cheek back-handed humor is what makes this movie. If words like "odd" and "wacky" do not describe any of your favorite films, you can stop reading now.

First we have the leading detective, played by Peter Falk (of Princess Bride and Colombo fame). I could describe his role as Humphry Bogart with a head injury. He play his part so Slim-Pickins-straight that you might mistake top-notch jokes like telling his cabby he can't tip because he's a war vet as non-nonsensical filler.

Then we have a parade of characters inspired by classic films. But you may find their identifying quirks don't fit the mold of what you would expect of the genre. Take, for example, Jasper Blubber, who is asked by Falk how he will recognize him when they meet. Jasper: "I'm a very large man. I'll be sitting in the first two seats as you come in." Or take the exchange Falk has with a mysterious woman who urgently needs his services. Woman: "Meet me in your office in fifteen minutes." Falk: "Well, what time is it now?" Woman: "I'd rather not tell you that...until I know I can trust you."

Falk pulls his revolver on his phone.
This is not a movie like many of the others I have reviewed. It's goofy and at times downright weird. But if that sounds like your kind of film, then may I recommend The Cheap Detective. Though heed my words, I may be among the very small percentage of the world's people who enjoyed it.

-MA 11.18.13

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