The Great Race Reviews

  • 2d ago

    Basically a two-hour and fourty-five minute long Looney Tunes sketch performed in the live action format. If the prior sentence doesn't set off at least a few sets of alarm bells in your head, then I don't know what to tell you. Slapstick can be an effective tool, yes, but only when the characters, stakes & conflict in play are firm enough to support a genuine comedic reaction from the audience. It's also most prudently used in short form storytelling (i.e. cartoons, shorts, skits, etc.) for even the most successful of reactions to pratfalls or pies in the face are fleeting in comparison to how audiences typically process other narrative devices. It's hard to play the long con with this kind of humor. It's damn near IMPOSSIBLE to play the three-hour long con with this kind of humor. And "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World" this movie is not. I appreciate Blake Edwards's spirit in setting forth with this piece. The actors seem to be having a great time -- especially the late, great Jack Lemmon. The set pieces, though monotonous after a time, are put together coherently. But nearly every other element -- the narrative, the character work, the pacing -- is lacking. No one is interesting. Our protagonist is horrifically characterized, with almost little to no identifiers given to him other than "he's good" and "he wears white." Natalie Wood's character is so haphazardly constructed, reflecting an overall issue in the thematic content therein. What were they trying to get across? Egalitarianism is good? Bad? Inevitable? It's so confused and thrown together. There are entire sequences (oh, no, not scenes -- SEQUENCES) that can go. There's absolutely no reason this needed to be this long. "The Great Race" is easily one of the more difficult watches I've had to endure as of late.

    Basically a two-hour and fourty-five minute long Looney Tunes sketch performed in the live action format. If the prior sentence doesn't set off at least a few sets of alarm bells in your head, then I don't know what to tell you. Slapstick can be an effective tool, yes, but only when the characters, stakes & conflict in play are firm enough to support a genuine comedic reaction from the audience. It's also most prudently used in short form storytelling (i.e. cartoons, shorts, skits, etc.) for even the most successful of reactions to pratfalls or pies in the face are fleeting in comparison to how audiences typically process other narrative devices. It's hard to play the long con with this kind of humor. It's damn near IMPOSSIBLE to play the three-hour long con with this kind of humor. And "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World" this movie is not. I appreciate Blake Edwards's spirit in setting forth with this piece. The actors seem to be having a great time -- especially the late, great Jack Lemmon. The set pieces, though monotonous after a time, are put together coherently. But nearly every other element -- the narrative, the character work, the pacing -- is lacking. No one is interesting. Our protagonist is horrifically characterized, with almost little to no identifiers given to him other than "he's good" and "he wears white." Natalie Wood's character is so haphazardly constructed, reflecting an overall issue in the thematic content therein. What were they trying to get across? Egalitarianism is good? Bad? Inevitable? It's so confused and thrown together. There are entire sequences (oh, no, not scenes -- SEQUENCES) that can go. There's absolutely no reason this needed to be this long. "The Great Race" is easily one of the more difficult watches I've had to endure as of late.

  • Oct 28, 2019

    Jack Lemmon is wonderful in this movie.

    Jack Lemmon is wonderful in this movie.

  • Jul 17, 2019

    The Great Race is a movie that feels like one I watched in my childhood, but I don’t remember it well enough to be sure. Maybe I’m thinking of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Wacky Races TV show, or some combination of those things. One thing I can say about The Great Race is that it rarely ever feels like a race, but more like they had some different scenes they wanted to compile into a single film and they used the race as the inciting incident to get the main characters to the right places for those scenes. I always enjoy the combination of the highly competent hero and the bumbling villain, because that allows you to laugh a lot at Professor Fate’s failures. I enjoy the cartoon-like violence in the film, and it reminds me a lot of Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther films at times. The drawback to the story was Natalie Wood’s character. While she’s a lovely actress, and sometimes added a little extra spark to things that happened, most of the time she was an annoyance rather than a benefit to the plot. In fact, the entire suffragette storyline was an odd addition to the film. Tony Curtis is good as the cocky hero that always seems to know the right thing to do. But the real joy of the film is watching Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk clumsily make one mistake after the next in their effort to best “The Great Leslie.” Most of the set pieces and locations were good, and the climactic pie fight is such a classic gag that I was grinning from ear-to-ear through the whole thing. I wouldn’t say The Great Race is one of the best comedies of all time, but it’s definitely a fun one and I’d gladly watch it again any time.

    The Great Race is a movie that feels like one I watched in my childhood, but I don’t remember it well enough to be sure. Maybe I’m thinking of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Wacky Races TV show, or some combination of those things. One thing I can say about The Great Race is that it rarely ever feels like a race, but more like they had some different scenes they wanted to compile into a single film and they used the race as the inciting incident to get the main characters to the right places for those scenes. I always enjoy the combination of the highly competent hero and the bumbling villain, because that allows you to laugh a lot at Professor Fate’s failures. I enjoy the cartoon-like violence in the film, and it reminds me a lot of Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther films at times. The drawback to the story was Natalie Wood’s character. While she’s a lovely actress, and sometimes added a little extra spark to things that happened, most of the time she was an annoyance rather than a benefit to the plot. In fact, the entire suffragette storyline was an odd addition to the film. Tony Curtis is good as the cocky hero that always seems to know the right thing to do. But the real joy of the film is watching Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk clumsily make one mistake after the next in their effort to best “The Great Leslie.” Most of the set pieces and locations were good, and the climactic pie fight is such a classic gag that I was grinning from ear-to-ear through the whole thing. I wouldn’t say The Great Race is one of the best comedies of all time, but it’s definitely a fun one and I’d gladly watch it again any time.

  • Feb 01, 2019

    The best comedy movie ever made! With the best movie character ever portrayed: Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate!

    The best comedy movie ever made! With the best movie character ever portrayed: Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate!

  • Jul 29, 2018

    Possibly the most underrated comedy of all time

    Possibly the most underrated comedy of all time

  • Jan 06, 2018

    One of the funniest films ever made.

    One of the funniest films ever made.

  • Dec 07, 2017

    WAAAAY too long! Much too loud. It seems like all the characters but the hero just yell at each other. Jokes and situations run way too long before the punch lines, which are then delivered in a manner which is not funny. Did I mention it is way too long? 2 hrs 40 min. It was obviously a high budget film with a high budget, normally talented cast, but it doesn't compare at all with its 1965 competition 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'.

    WAAAAY too long! Much too loud. It seems like all the characters but the hero just yell at each other. Jokes and situations run way too long before the punch lines, which are then delivered in a manner which is not funny. Did I mention it is way too long? 2 hrs 40 min. It was obviously a high budget film with a high budget, normally talented cast, but it doesn't compare at all with its 1965 competition 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'.

  • May 29, 2017

    Campy fun. Enjoyable to watch a great cast having fun: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Keenan Wynn and Peter Falk are delights. One of Blake Edwards' best. "Push the button, Max!"

    Campy fun. Enjoyable to watch a great cast having fun: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Keenan Wynn and Peter Falk are delights. One of Blake Edwards' best. "Push the button, Max!"

  • Antonius B Super Reviewer
    Apr 01, 2017

    I just love this movie. I've seen it many times over my life, and it never gets old. The contrast between squeaky-clean Tony Curtis and dastardly Jack Lemmon is wonderful, and Lemmon in particular delivers a hilarious performance, both in his main role as Professor Fate, as well as the Crown Prince of Pottsdorf later in the movie. The laughs and mannerisms of both characters are memorable. The scene in the Arctic snowstorm always cracks me up, Fate's mustache being snapped off by his henchman (Peter Falk, who's also great), and him showing he's not exactly a 'morning person' when he's asked to 'rise and shine'. Professor Fate is so bothered by everything that he'll even snarl at cute little pugs in a lavish bed. Natalie Wood is in a deceptively tricky role, needing at the same time to be funny, serious as a suffragette, and secretly attracted to Curtis as a love interest - and she absolutely shines. She's also incredibly beautiful, simply a dream, as always. The 'big' moments of slapstick in the film are done very well, including an epic pie fight and barroom brawl, but there are also a large number of 'small' moments - little lines of dialogue, inflections, and facial expressions - that keep me smiling throughout, even when I know it's silliness that would appeal to children. The film is 160 minutes but Director Blake Edwards keeps it lively, and it never drags. Great film.

    I just love this movie. I've seen it many times over my life, and it never gets old. The contrast between squeaky-clean Tony Curtis and dastardly Jack Lemmon is wonderful, and Lemmon in particular delivers a hilarious performance, both in his main role as Professor Fate, as well as the Crown Prince of Pottsdorf later in the movie. The laughs and mannerisms of both characters are memorable. The scene in the Arctic snowstorm always cracks me up, Fate's mustache being snapped off by his henchman (Peter Falk, who's also great), and him showing he's not exactly a 'morning person' when he's asked to 'rise and shine'. Professor Fate is so bothered by everything that he'll even snarl at cute little pugs in a lavish bed. Natalie Wood is in a deceptively tricky role, needing at the same time to be funny, serious as a suffragette, and secretly attracted to Curtis as a love interest - and she absolutely shines. She's also incredibly beautiful, simply a dream, as always. The 'big' moments of slapstick in the film are done very well, including an epic pie fight and barroom brawl, but there are also a large number of 'small' moments - little lines of dialogue, inflections, and facial expressions - that keep me smiling throughout, even when I know it's silliness that would appeal to children. The film is 160 minutes but Director Blake Edwards keeps it lively, and it never drags. Great film.

  • Mar 14, 2017

    Of course it's silly. It is supposed to be. Grand mid 60's epic comedy with wit as well as slapstick. Natalie shows great comedic timing. And the pie fight is always funny, especially Natalie IN the pie fight. Yes it is long. But these were days when people did not have cell phones to check every 2 minutes, actually had an adult attention spans, and went out for a big night out at the MOVIES!

    Of course it's silly. It is supposed to be. Grand mid 60's epic comedy with wit as well as slapstick. Natalie shows great comedic timing. And the pie fight is always funny, especially Natalie IN the pie fight. Yes it is long. But these were days when people did not have cell phones to check every 2 minutes, actually had an adult attention spans, and went out for a big night out at the MOVIES!