Where's Poppa? Reviews
And, truth be told, it is pretty fantastic... just not consistently so. There are moments when the humor works in spectacular ways, although it is unlikely to make you bust your gut with laughter. Take, for instance, the moment where Gordon (Segal) leads his love to the bedroom. When trying to lay her down on the bed, she instead stands and in the passion of kissing, he ends up standing on the bed as well. She manages to mention that they are still wearing their shoes, and so while kissing voraciously and while standing on the bed, Gordon attempts to remove both his and her shoes. That's funny, real clever, but not gonna leave tears in your eyes.
The plot is plenty wacky. Gordon promised his father on his deathbed that he would take care of his senile mother and not place her in a nursing home. That promise has caused him nothing but anguish, however, as his mother's condition has only worsened. She throws juvenile tantrums, embarasses Gordon by pulling his pants off when guests are in the apartment, and yells constantly. He's at his wit's end. Meanwhile, Gordon's brother Sidney is trying to make it across town to help cool the situation, but runs into a gang of troublemakers in the park who decide to steal his clothes when he has no money. Then later, he wears a gorilla suit and... well you know the rest.
Does it make sense? No, and it's when the movie really allows itself to enjoy its own absurdity that it hits the mark. When Gordon's love tells him that she has bought a plane ticket and is going home, his first response is, "Where is home?" Which only leads to a protracted discussion about Waukegan, Illinois. That's the kind of stuff that makes the movie enjoyable. It's just too bad that a lot of the rest of the movie is slow and doesn't often hit in the same way.
The cult movie book of mine admits that Where's Poppa? is "an acquired taste", and that may be the case. It's oddball happenings remind me of the work of Joe Minion and of the 1989 movie Twister. Those movies worked better, it seems to me, because there was more urgency to them. The plot (what plot there is) moves forward much more smoothly in those movies than this one, which works much like a play - there is no sense that one thing necessarily leads to the next here, so much as one thing just happens to precede the next.
If the script had been allowed to go through one more draft, Where's Poppa? could have been close to perfect. As it stands, there's too little tying it together, really, to work as well as it ought to.