Shout! Factory // 1977 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 8th, 2013
This movie is totally out of control.
The italics is theirs, but if any movie deserved to italicize the word "totally" in the title, it's this one.
Before they earned their bank with Airplane! and Top Secret! and The Naked Gun saga, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams unleashed this sketch comedy collection on the world and I'm not entirely sure the world was ready for it. In fact, I don't think the world wants much of anything to do with it now.
There are movies that could never, ever be made today. Blazing Saddles and Slap Shot immediately spring to mind, for example. I think you have to put The Kentucky Fried Movie up there too, if only for the dead kid sketch.
As a comedic experience, it's all over the place, which, to be fair, is the standard operating procedure when it comes to sketch anthologies. Some bits don't land, some are antiquated, some are just so-so. But when the Zuckers/Abrahams magic kicks in, it kicks in hard and delivers some bountiful gut laughter.
Oh yeah, and these guys go for it. No half-measures. No concerns of political correctness. If someone has to shout the N-word to get a laugh, he'll do it. If the gag calls for NC-17 levels of sex, then time to get it on. These guys barely got their movie financed, and it's obvious there was no way they weren't going to skimp.
I almost wonder if Zucker, Zucker, and Abrahams weighed their options: go all in and risk totally imploding and never working in the town again or perhaps use their deranged humor to propel themselves onward and upward. The latter happened of course so I am grateful they opted to saddle up.
If you've seen The Kentucky Fried Movie then you know this already. For those of you have yet to watch it (and I was late comer myself), I fully endorse it. Not only is it a de facto flux capacitor, a look into the kind of boundaries-pushing humor that could actually make it on an American movie screen almost four decades ago, but because, frankly you'll laugh. The "Fistful of Yen" segment, which is the lengthiest and acts as the centerpiece of the film, is funnier than the aggregate of spoof movies that have been released by Hollywood in the last ten years.
On Blu-ray, the film shows its age. The 1.78:1/1080p picture quality is hugely uneven, with chunks of runtime exhibiting quite a bit of grain. For audio, you'll get a DTS-HD Master Audio mono track. Translation: this isn't going to be a reference disc for your A/V rig. Extras: the classic commentary track with director John Landis, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Producer Robert K. Weiss and a lengthy conversation with David and Jerry Zucker.
The Kentucky Fried Movie is hit-and-miss, but when the hits hit, the laughs are legendary.
Not guilty. Cleopatra Schwartz approves.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Rated R