Life Stinks

Life Stinks

Directed by: Mel Brooks

Friday, May 3 - Sunday, May 5, 2013

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35mm print

“A fable of a rich urban developer who finds himself on the streets, in the ghetto, wondering where his next meal is coming from… Brooks plays the rich man himself. His name is Goddard Bolt, and he intends to buy a large, wretchedly poor area of Los Angeles, tear it down, and start over – at immense profit to himself. His archenemy in business is a predatory capitalist named Vance Crasswell (played by Jeffrey Tambor with oily superiority). They get in a bidding and bluffing war, and it finally all comes down to a bet: The Brooks character bets he can live for 30 days, by his wits, as a homeless bum – without ever stepping foot outside the area.

“This is a premise Brooks and his writers have borrowed from Sullivan’s Travels, the 1939 Preston Sturges classic in which Joel McCrea plays a Hollywood director who went on the road as a bum. But the streets are a little meaner in 1991 than they were in 1939, and the affluent are stingier. It is sometimes all Brooks can do to make his movie seem like a comedy, when the desperation of the homeless is so evident in every scene.

“But he pulls it off. He gets mileage out of his own efforts to emulate the panhandlers he sees – he wipes a windshield, he dances and hopes people will toss coins into his hat – and he makes some friends on the street, who steer him toward the nearest soup kitchen. And he meets some kindred spirits, like Molly (Lesley Ann Warren), who lives in an alley that she has furnished as her living room. The movie’s best scene is one in which, together, they transform poverty into fantasy, in a dance inspired by the old MGM musicals.” – Roger Ebert

PG-13, 91 Minutes
USA, 1991

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