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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Exercise, watch what you eat, see your doctor regularly . . . or maybe not, 24 October 2006
Author: wmorrow59 from Westchester County, NY
Fans of Robert Benchley's comedies such as the 1928 classic THE SEX
LIFE OF THE POLYP know that in his early movies Mr. Benchley himself
was slender, bright-eyed and energetic, very much the image of a young
fellow who took good care of himself. Later on, well . . . not so much.
By the time he hit 50 Benchley was distinctly pear-shaped and known to
be a heavy drinker. He sometimes looked genuinely wiped-out in his
films, though he would occasionally use his bleariness to good comic
effect. In this little wartime entry KEEPING IN SHAPE our host really
went the extra mile to exploit his out-of-shape appearance for laughs,
and it looks like he might've even worked up a more severe hang-over
than usual for the occasion. It'll come down to personal taste whether
you find this Aging Guy shtick funny or not, however, and if you're
somewhere near Benchley's own age when he made this film the humor
might cut a little too close to the bone.
Benchley kicks things off by announcing that it's time to "get the ol' body into shape, toughen up, and get into tip-top physical condition for the hard days ahead." So we can safely assume that he's going to show up at the gym looking like hell, and we're not disappointed. A jolly English trainer nicknamed Shorty tries to cajole the gent into doing some brisk sit-ups, but soon his stamina wilts and he fades away. In the next episode Mr. Benchley examines proper diet, and certainly looks quite miserable sitting in a restaurant picking at lettuce and dry toast while his non-dieting friends dig into pork chops, buttered corn-on-the-cob, etc. Soon enough, however, he's washing down his Spartan meal with a stein of beer as one of his friends helpfully assures him that beer is good for you: "it counteracts the acid in fats, or something." In the third and final episode, Benchley rather oddly switches to the topic of tooth care and dental appointments, as if he just couldn't bear to continue joking about exercise and food one more minute. The last episode is weak, but the film concludes with a cute closing gag.
This isn't one of Benchley's more inspired comedies, but he's an engaging personality even when his material isn't the greatest. I guess it's always a little melancholy to poke fun at the pitfalls of being middle-aged, and perhaps that's why this short left me more sobered than amused. The joke here is that our host really doesn't give a damn about getting in shape, eating right or going to the dentist, and we might chuckle at his "bad boy" attitude for a moment or two, but ultimately our awareness that Robert Benchley wore himself out at the age of 56 gives the laughter a hollow ring.
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Couple Nice Moments, 1 May 2011
Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
Keeping in Shape (1941)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Decent Robert Benchley short once again finds him behind his desk explaining to men the best way to stay in shape. This includes doing exercise, eating a healthy diet and taking care of your teeth. As Benchley explains the importance of these we see his alter ego Mr. Doakes doing anything to not take care of himself. This includes cheating at his exercises, trying to cancel a dentist appointment and substituting a beer into the spot of a grapefruit. KEEPING IN SHAPE isn't the greatest written short but it's mildly entertaining thanks in large part to Benchley's performance as Doakes. I found the segment on the dentist to contain the best joke and that's when Doakes is trying to get out of an appointment only for his wife to take the phone and take care of the matter in seconds. None of the three segments contain too much detail to anything as the entire film runs just over 7-minutes so there's really not enough time for that. Fans of Benchley will certainly want to check it out but others might want to start with a different short from the comedian.
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