Thursday, May 30, 1985
The Michigan Daily
Screwball comedy lacks frenzied pace
By Byron L. Bull same duo, Herschel Weingrad and presence, and, even in this film's
Timothy Harris. Both films are most contrived melodramatic bits, an
imitative of the classic screwball aura of honesty that is no small asset.
A NYTIME A FILM loiters a a comedies of the '30s and '40s but are But most of the time Pryor cops out.
good fifteen minutes before it at best pale copies, without the doing what he did in countless other
gets through the opening credits, you delightfully quirky characterizations turkeys like Stir Crazy. Superman III.
know you're in for a long evening. and moebius-strip plot twist. The and The Toy playing himself as the
Brewster's Millions, though just less laughs are scarce, as most of grand fool, grimacing and yukking it
than two hours long, is so eventless it Brewster's escapades (such as hiring up in a manner so embarrassing he
seems to drag on for twice that, and virtually everyone he runs into for seems destined to inherit the Jerry
succeeds in making itself one of the some meaningless job at a ridiculous Lewis mantel.
more stale and witless film vehicles salary) are pretty tame to begin with,
to date in Richard Pryor's fairly long and get damn tiresome after coun- Unlike Eddie Murphy (who cites
and disappointing career as a film tless repetition. Put in the simplest Pryor as a major influence), Pryor
comic, words: this is not a funny movie. doesn't try to personalize his material
In this outing Pryor plays one Mon- The film was directed by Walter with any adlibs or improvisations, the
tgomery Brewster, an aging pitcher Hill, a would be auteur known for a quietly and willingly slps into one
for a hopelessly insignificant minor long string of silly mythic adventures more whitewashed, off-the-rack role
league ball team that's just given him (The Warriors, Streets of Fire) in the and goes through the motions. Pryor
the boot to make room for a new crop John Ford school of filmmaking. Hill is no doubt getting richer, but he's
of college draft choices. But before he does have a certain skill with action also doing what could be irreparable
can even hit the pavement he's scenes. He has a cool, academic damage to his reputation as a once
yanked into a gleaming Manhattan authority with violence, but here, brilliant comedian.
skyscraper and informed that he's the dealing with humor, he's lost, without Surprising it's John Candy who
sole benefactor of a hitherto unknown a clue as to comic timing and pacing. shines here, as Brewster's second
uncle's $30 million dollar estate. Screwball comedies are based on banana and best friend. Most of Can-
There is of course a stipulation that, ludicrous premises, and have to run dy's prior work, on SCTV and in sup-
according to Brewster's late eccen- at a frenzied pace to work. Hill drags porting roles in Splash and Stripes,
tric uncle's last whim, he must first this film out at a snail's pace and with has been a laughably oafish
manage to spend a whole $30 million such a flimsy premise underneath caricature. But here he shows a
of it within the first month or forfeit that the film falls apart quickly. thoughtful sense of timing, and awell
the entire fortune. Pryor has, ina few fleeting momen- of warm charm. His character may
Brewster's Millions bears a strong ts in films like Some Kind of Hero, be little more than a piece of
resemblance to Trading Places, and shown potential for being a gifted ac- background, but Candy rises to the
in fact both films were written by the tor. He has for one a natural camera challenge, and emerges as the one
John Candy's character lives it up as the only oasis of humanity in an
otherwise flat screwball comedy.
character of any humanity in an the lid of Pryor's career coffin, but
otherwise humanless film. it's also an important foot in the door
This may be just one more nail into for Candy's film career.
Books-- - --- -- -
.dthan insight in the labyrinth of Middle a haphazard and superficial He gives the distorted impression that group's charter. Indeed, the word
Beginning today, book reviews Eastern politics. It is replete with examination of nations and events the region is governed by friendly, 'skyjacking," which during the early
will be a regular feature of the misreadings of historical data, suffers which deserve much closer scrutiny. and at worst, eccentric rulers. '70s was synonymous with the PLO,
Thursday Arts page. Expect from serious omissions of historical Second, Carter devotes too much at- Fourth, although he correctly iden- does not appear once in Carter's
reviews of the latest in popularfic- facts, and wastes precious space on tention to ancient history, which he tifies the Palestinian problem as one examination of the PLO, and the word
lion and non-fiction as well as the irrelevant details. claims without qualification is essen- of the greatest obstacles to peace in "terrorist" appears only once.
,oh i y p l Ifa book's success depends on its ef- tial to understanding modern day the Middle East, the former Carter's most serious error in his
best of what isn't yet popular. fectiveness in achieving the author's problems. But he fails to tie together President's understanding of the description of the PLO is his
Submissions for publication on stated goal, The Blood of Abraham is ancient and modern events, and situation is severely limited. For in- declaration that there is "almost
future Thursdays are welcome and a failure. In the introduction, Carter leaves little space for the more stance, he fails to recognize the unanimous public support among
should be delivered triple-spaced maintains that the antagonistic forces relevant subject of recent history. ongoing debate over whether a Palestinians for the PLO ...." This
to the Daily Arts room in the in the Middle East are acteally less Consequently, the author spends more Palestinian state is necessary or statement is made without
t D i rized than one may think, that time discussing King David than the whether Jordan already serves that qalification, and conradicta polls
Student Publications Building, those nations share a common desire Balfour Declaration of 1917, and men- purpose, the resolution of which would which indicate that as msny as half
The Blood of Abraham: for peace, and that most of the tions Jesus more often than King determine whether Israel or Jordan is the Palestinians oppose the PLO. The
historical facts are not in dispute. Khalid of Saudi Arabia. responsible for the well-being of the recent "civil war" which has further
Insights into the "Why," the author asks, "is it so dif- Third, Carter spends too much refugees. ripped apart the PLO indicates that
Middle East ficult - seemingly impossible - to time discussing his personal ex- Carter's confusion over the there is nothing close to a unanimous
By bring peace to the region?" It is periences in the Middle East. In many Palestinian problem is typified by his consensus among the Palestinians,
By Jimmy Carter possible to answer this question, Car- places, The Blood of Abraham reads misrepresentation of the Palestine even those in the PLO. By claiming
Houghton Mifflin Company, ter claims, "only by listening to the like a Berlitz travel guide or letter Liberation Organization. In his that almsot all Palestinians support
ppg. 257, $15.95. voices in each nation and by from a college student abroad for the discussion of the PLO, the author vir- the PLO, the author gives the unfair
examining more closely the history of first time impressed by ancient ruins, tually ignores its role as a terrorist and unfounded impression that
Jimmy Carter's The Blood of the people themselves." This quaint tea houses, and camels. Car- group. Political considerations aside, Palestinians in general advocate
Abraham is misrepresented by the unrestrained optimism does not pay ter's book is characterized by a an understanding of the PLO is im- terrorism.
subtitle Insights into the Middle East. off, and at the book's conclusion, both romantic fascination with the Orient possible if its terrorist activities are The Blood of Abraham is a book
If anything, the former President's author and reader are no better more appropriate for Lawrence of not taken into consideration. Con- tho dion A though a
latest effort offers more confusion prepared to answer the question than Arabia than a serious political sistent with his tendency to portray all authoutcladirectio n.sAlthoug hotr a
they were on page one. analysis, and reflects a general un- Middle Easterners as peace lovers, aution to be
Carter's failure to offer a coherent willingness to face the harsh reality of Carter describes the PLO in Lebanon solution to the problems of the Middle
WYFR-daly-13 m rband understanding of the Middle East's the war-torn region. In addition, Car- as a provider of "welfare, health, East, he gets bogged down in the
problems is fourfold. First, he attem- ter tends to evaluate the area's education, judicial, and other ser- irrelevant details of folklore and an-
pts to tackle too much subject matter leaders based on their appearance to vices," but does not mention its cam- cient history, and focuses too sharply
in too short a book. In less than 200 him in arranged meetings. Rather paign of terror against the local on his personal experiences. Evenin
pages, the author discusses the than concentrate on significant Christian population. Similarly, he the insufficient space left for analysis,
--,a ' history, political situation, and his political or military acts, Carter quotes Yasir Arafat as denying the Carter displays only a superficial us-
personal impressions of Israel, Syria, focuses on a particular ruler's sense accusation that the PLO vows the derstanding of the ideas and eventa
Lebanon, the Palestinians, Jordan, of humor, degree of hospitality, or destruction of Israel, but he fails to which have shaped the Middle East.
Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The result is otherwise irrelevant idiosyncracies. point out that this goal is stated in the -Ron Schechter