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Norman Z. McLeod
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I have really enjoyed Will Rogers' films over the years and found myself disappointed with "Mr. Skitch". This is because I knew how good his films COULD be and this one, though generally enjoyable, had a lot of problems--making it among Rogers' lesser movies.
The film begins with the Skitch family getting thrown out of their home after the bank failed. Most of the family took this in stride, but the oldest daughter is a spoiled jerk and was not the least bit upset for her parents or siblings but was upset because it exposed her lies about how well to do her family was. Again and again throughout the film, she lies and tries to put on airs even though her family is just a normal poor Depression-era family. In fact, this character truly grated on me and I almost wanted to see her dad or mom (Will Rogers and Zasu Pitts) backhand this nasty, spoiled brat.
Much of the film consists of showing the family after they lose their home. They decide, like much of America at the time, to head to California but instead of taking a direct route, the poor family stops at some of the more famous national parks along the way. None of this was hilarious but pleasant--and I enjoyed watching. But, each time the plot switched to the bratty oldest daughter and her love life, the film lost me.
As for the ending, it was simply terrible. Instead of having a realistic ending or even a happy ending, the ending came as if by magic--like the film was missing a reel. It literally went from the family on the brink of starvation to living rich and happily ever after....with no real clear path as to how and why this would happen.
Overall, the film has some very nice moments with Rogers (it's hard not to like him) but too many superfluous moments as well. Clearly a mixed bag and a film that will likely leave the viewer feeling a bit unsatisfied.
By the way, on the DVD for this film is a DVD extra, "The Ropin' Fool". It's a silent short starring Rogers and it's simply amazing to watch. It's a rare case where a DVD extra is better than the feature film! Be sure to see this one.
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