Seven segments related to one another only in that they all purport to be based on sections of the book by David Reuben. The segments range from "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?" in which a court ... See full summary »
Writer/director Woody Allen explains that when he was asked to supervise the making of the definitive spy thriller, what he decided to do was acquire the rights to a B-grade Japanese spy caper (Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965)) filmed with Japanese actors in Japanese, delete the existing soundtrack, and redub into English and reorder select scenes to create an entirely new movie, a comedy, having nothing to do with the original story-line. The result... International spy Phil Moscowitz, working out of the Asia bureau, is a self-professed lovable rogue with sex always on his mind. He inadvertently gets involved in a mission, the client the Grand Exalted High Majah of Raspur. The success of the mission will determine if Raspur, a non-existent country that nonetheless sounds real, will indeed become real. Moscowitz is to retrieve something stolen from the Majah by criminal Shepherd Wong: the best ever egg salad recipe. Phil is to be assisted by two of the Majah's own agents,... Written by
American International Pictures bought the 1965 Japanese film "Key of Keys" for $66,000. However, the studio quickly realized that it was far too confusing for Western audiences. AIP president Henry G. Saperstein came up with the idea of turning the original inscrutable thriller into a comedy by dubbing it with different dialogue. As Woody Allen had just scored an unexpected hit with his screenplay for What's New Pussycat (1965), Saperstein hired him. See more »
A glass filter is clearly seen being pulled away from the lens as Phil wakes up in the Sheik's palace. See more »
In the closing credits, Woody Allen watches a striptease. The credits appear on the right side of the screen as the striptease goes on and at the end there is a statement: "And if you have been reading this instead of looking at the girl, then see your psychiatrist, or go to a good eye doctor." And then an eye chart appears. See more »
not for all tastes, but if you're in the right crazy-comedy mode it could be one of Woody's funniest films
In its own nature, the film being made fun of within the film What's Up, Tiger Lily is inherently silly. It's a James Bond rip-off done to the Nth degree, where based on only a few films its Japanese B-movie counterpart does everything just in imagery alone to make it a ludicrous action-movie experience. Just in the opening moments, even before Woody Allen appears on the screen to explain the method to the madness in the film, is quite funny in a bad-movie sort of way. And I think that it's probably not too unexpected that it puts a divide in Woody Allen's audience. There's the group that's more into just his later style of wit and humor, and I can tell that for those it's not surprising to see some not really 'getting' into this style of wacky, off-the-wall, cartoon humor. But after seeing a couple of more dramatic films recently, this one really did the trick. It's the film that was the most likely to spawn the underground Night of the Living Dead parody of 1991, along with Kung Pow (the former being better than the latter), but it also has a kin-ship, if not ascendancy, of the ZAZ comedies of the late 70s and 80s, and even a tinge of Mel Brooks.
So, for me, this is actually one of my favorite Woody Allen comedies. Not really up as high in terms of cinematic 'quality' (in terms of craftsmanship, I mean) as his 70s films, but with material like this, it's almost required not to carp. Woody and his team of writers and voice actors almost have it cut out for them. There's much to wonder, perhaps, in what the 'real' plot of this Japanese spy film (Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi, or International Secret Police: Key of Keys) is almost as funny as what the writers come up with. Spies and assassins are on the look out for, get this, an Egg salad recipe! But, of course, this is just as much a gimmick as is, well, much of the rest of what comes out of the actor's mouths. At times I wasn't even sure if it was all Woody Jokes, or which were (twenty minutes, apparently, are not by Woody Allen's group but by someone else, though it's hard to tell which is a credit to most involved), but I didn't care. It's got the kind of jokes that, on a certain plain, can allow you to laugh like an idiot.
Certain gags just come with the territory of the film itself, and are heightened by the added bits during fights. But much of the film is based on the wit Woody's known for, though here sometimes to equally 'bad-pun' and juvenile terms, even featuring (practically never in any of his other films) rock and roll and cartoon-like voices (my favorite the snake-obsessed henchman) right out of Looney Tunes and Ren & Stimpy. So many lines strike up laughs to greater or lesser degrees it's hard to really spot them out, but it's suffice to say that by the time it's done- and through its end credits featuring an eye-exam- you'll know whether you'll want to watch it again like a ZAZ or Brooksfilm to memorize the quotable lines and bits, or put it in the lower, deeper-to-find section in your video collection. Things like a spy who bursts into an operatic love song during tense confrontation scenes, and with puns like "two Wong's don't make a right", are what you can expect in this film, but there's more, and it will either ignite the anything-goes funny button, or just not do it for you. One thing's for sure, you'll never see the Lovin' Spoonful the same way again.
By the way, this review reflects the Woody Allen dub of the movie (of what's 2/3 there anyway), and it's available on the DVD; recommended over the other dub that's been floating around too.
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