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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Blazing Saddles

***** Blazing Saddles. Comedy.

Directed by: Mel Brooks.

Starring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder

I watched this on video with the boys over the course of four nights. Blazing Saddles is such a classic. From "candygram for Mongo!" to "it's twoo! it's twoo!" it's nonstop laughs.

To save money, the railroad needs to go through the town of Rock Ridge, and governor's right-hand man, Hedley--not Hedy!--Lamarr (Harvey Kormann) come up with a solution to get the residents to leave: hire a black sheriff (Cleavon Little).

When Bart (Little) gets to his office, he discovers the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) sleeping off a drunk in his cell. They become friends and allies and save the day.

Brooks doesn't miss a trick with the humor, which, despite the famous campfire farting scene (which I saw once inexplicably edited for television as burping), is both sillier and smarter than most modern over-the-top comedies. I think it's because the jokes are all very pointed, and they're funnier because they're true.

The biggest point of the movie is, of course, racism, and it's treated in a way unheard-of today--by
blatant ridicule. Those who are racist out of ignorance learn the error of their ways, and the outright bigots are shown to be idiots. It pulled out all the stereotypes and turned them around and demonstrated their foolishness. I don't want to turn this into an anti-PC rant, so I'll just point out that laughing at something helps it lose its power.

The boys, of course, loved it, and it sparked a lot of serious in-depth discussions about racism and about humor. They hadn't seen it before, because it's rated R, but there are R-rated movies, and then there are R-rated movies, and I don't think it was inappropriate for my 12- and 16-year-old sons.

The rant about the movie ratings system will have to wait for another time.


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