Life Stinks Reviews
There are attempts at humor in the film, make no mistakes about that, with with Brooks you can count on either biting satire or goofy, go-for-broke sight gags. You'll find none of that here. Because of the subject matter. most of the humor is uncomfortable and it doesn't mix well with the paths and social commentary.
I can understand Brooks wanting to shine a light on a serious subject matter through the use of humor, but here the line between the two is blurred and neither is effective. The homeless in the film are fairly impossible to take seriously because they are written as kooky but lovable scamps. The upside of that is that it makes the preposterous relationship that develops between Brooks and bag lady Lesley Anne Warren palatable but still incredibly difficult to stomach.
There are also several basic contrivances with the story that are never fully resolved, but they do make for a happy ending in which everyone learns a lesson and is wiser for the experience. Everyone, that is, except for the audience of "Life Stinks." It's a definite departure for Brooks that still tries to retain the spirit of his earlier films, but the gamble misfires badly. It's a somber experience, and the lack of successful jokes make it even more unbearable.
Mel Gibson gave a great turnaround in a dramatic performance, and quickly turned from a upper class snob into a character we really feel sorry for and care for. He also had good comedic moments and gave excellent direction to the story and so it ended up like a more dramatic version of Trading Places but with a single character, and I found that Life Stinks came off as a clever satire and was if nothing else, inspiring and uplifting. Life Stinks is another film that is way too unappreciated, and is a nice change of pace for Mel Brooks.
Also, Lesley Ann Warren gave an excellent and very sweet yet strong performance opposite Mel Brooks, and she reminded me all too perfectly of Susan Sarandon. I really enjoyed the level of emotion she brought to the screen.
Life Stinks was a nice simple look at the underclass life and really plays the issues the characters are forced to face to tug at the heartstrings of the viewers, and I found it to b a strong drama with some good comedic moments along the way so it doesn't aim to be too melodramatic. I enjoyed Life Stinks, more so than a lot of other people did.
However, he makes a bet with a co-executive, "Vance Crasswell" (Jeffrey Tambor) after he says he could live without his money. The bet -- live on the street, penniless, for 30 days.
On the street, he meets those who rely on the kindness of strangers. He even meets a woman (Lesley Ann Warren) who lives in an alley, whom he becomes infatuated with.
However, when it's time to collect his winnings on the bet, he learns that his life has been turned upside down. Now, he has to fight his way back into his life of privilege.
The first thing you will notice is that this movie lacks good laugh-out-loud humor like many of Brooks' classics. I probably laughed possibly four times through the whole movie. Yes, this is satire, but knowing how Brooks movies usually are, I was expecting a lot more laughs.
Another thing that is not done well is that you don't get to see a lot of Tambor's character's plans to undermind "Bolt" and take over the business, as well as "Bolt's" personal property.
There are some good performances in this film. Warren and Brooks work nicely together. Brooks plays "Bolt" as a man who slowly changes his way of thinking about the homeless as he learns more and more about them.
One problem with this movie is it barely touches upon how "Crasswell" plans to takeover "Bolt's" empire, which includes personal belongings. We get one scene where you suspect he has a plan that "Bolt" won't like. Then, at the movie's climax, we see his plans in full force.
One thing this movie does well, is wardrobes of the homeless and their makeup. The clothes really look as if they have been worn 24-hours a day for many months to years. Make-up is basically what appears to be dirt smudges.
They really spent some time in the detail of "Bolt's" look in this movie. He starts off clean-cut, and then is slowly transformed into a homeless person. His face grows stubble, and his clothing begins to slowly look as if he hasn't changed his outfit in weeks as the movie progresses.
There are some good performances in this movie, especially from Warren and Brooks. Warren's "Molly" is played with a kind heart, but some obvious issues plague her. "Bolt" starts off as a well-to-do businessman who would walk past a homeless person without making eye contact. He then slowly becomes a person who cares for the problems the homeless, especially when one of those he befriended dies on a sidewalk, and the owner of a near by business is indifferent because the man was homeless.
There are some problems with character development with the supporting characters. To me, they were just plot devices that were not used well at all.
When it comes to music, I honestly can't remember any music in the movie except for the humorously oddly placed dance scene in a clothes filled warehouse.
Despite the minor problems, this is still a fairly good movie. I suggest not to buy or rent it, but watch it on television when there really is nothing else on.