Room Service Reviews
In what is basically a movie where a highlight is a flying turkey (where you can see the wire, and I did laugh quite a lot during these turkey bits as it's silly enough to get by), the brothers play theater hustlers trying to get a play produced and they try to keep their actors set up at the hotel - trouble is a stuffy and blustery hotel manager wants them out so they have to concoct a series of schemes (usually with the playwright) to keep their rooms.
I couldn't stand the actor playing the hotel manager, Wagner played by Donald MacBride, who is completely one note and yells most of his dialog just in case we don't see he's trying to be funny (he's even saddled with a catch phrase, "JUMPIN BUTTERBALLS!" which according to IMDb was some "softened" language from the play to screen). And Frank Albertson as Leo Davis (the playwright) is unconvincing and seems to whine through much of his performance - he's technically supposed to be the "normal" character we get in a lot of Marx movies, but it doesn't work here since, with the exception of Harpo who can't help but he who/what/when/why/how he is, everyone is fairly normal and caught in the wheel-grinder of the plot.
I don't know if this would work better on stage, and seemingly at the time since it was successful I'd venture a guess that it was. But it doesn't gfit the sensibilities of the three brothers who thrive off of fast-peppy dialog and zingers. Now, this isn't to say if you decide to watch this there's nothing there for you period; lines do stick out that, I imagine, were written for the Marx brothers (i.e. Harpo first appears, takes off his jacket and is without a shirt, Chico says, "He don't believe in wearing a shirt," to which Groucho responds, "Oh, an atheist, eh?"), and Harpo's moments and perfectly times weirdness get one through. But make no mistake this is not a good use of these men's time, and unlike the best of their work this hasn't aged well (I wasn't even sure how this hotel stuff even works in this time and place).
In short: it's not enough to just have these three guys on screen - there's got to be good things for them to say and interactions that WORK for their sensibilities. You can't fit a Marx peg in a round hole.
Started off well enough. Set up was good, some good one-liners from Groucho and was quite coherent. Middle section had some great sight gags (anything involving the turkey, and Harpo being diagnosed by the doctor, especially).
However, from a point it lost coherence and just got silly. Not ridiculously, unwatchably silly, but just mundane and not too funny.
Overall, the jokes were weaker than their best, and even Groucho's famous wisecracks seemed weaker and fewer-and-further-between.
Performances, given the material, are OK though. Lucille Ball is great in a supporting role, and not just for her acting... Good support too from Ann Miller and Frank Albertson.
Certainly not in the same league as A Night At The Opera or Duck Soup, but reasonably entertaining nevertheless.