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"Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" was created under the auspices of NBC-TV as a proposed network special. NBC's motivation for doing so was largely supported by O'Donoghue's strength as a writer and performer for Saturday Night Live, then one of NBC's few genuine hit shows. When NBC censors saw the finished product, they were horrified; much as they had been when Richard Pryor's earlier comedy specials were first reviewed. But unlike the situation had been with Pryor, NBC rejected "Mr. Mike", which sent O'Donoghue packing from the network, Saturday Night Live and all. 'Twas a pity; after all, his unpredictable, twisted sense of humor had helped to make SNL distinctive, and his departure was the first indicator of the gradual decline of SNL into the mediocrity it eventually became. Somehow M O'D retained the rights to the finished product, and it was released as a theatrical film in 1980; the author was one of perhaps a half dozen souls who braved it in first release at my particular theater. Few films have been such a poor draw, and it was pulled from distribution very quickly. NBC's main objection to the show was the inclusion of a clip of ex-Sex Pistol and suspected murderer Sid Vicious singing Paul Anka's song "My Way" and firing a pistol at the camera. It's arguably the weakest segment in the film, but for some reason M O'D refused to part with it. When "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" was issued on VHS in 1985 the audiotrack to this segment was expunged from the release, as Anka's publishing company refused to grant a license for the song. Ironically, the same segment, in a somewhat different visual form, appears in Julien Temple's Sex Pistols film "The Great Rock and Roll Swindle", and no such censorship is imposed in the video release. I am commenting as I am surprised by the low viewer rating for this title on the imdb. Some of the segments here are quite honestly among the funniest, darkest, most irreverent comedy ever committed to film. Fans of offbeat humor really shouldn't miss this one; much of it is still cutting edge two decades on, and certain segments are even now enough to reduce me to helpless hysterics, tears rolling down my cheeks with laughter. Mr. Mike, your "Mondo Video" is so funny, it hurts.
The title of my summary pretty much says it all. The movie is hilarious, but there are less "belly" laughs than there are "Where the hell did that come from?" laughs. As National Lampoon fans know, Michael O'Donoghue was an "evil genius" of comedy. His philosophy was that there's no such thing as "too far", and that rings clearly in this film. The movie was banned from TV by the FCC, for obvious reasons. I highly recommend this movie to lovers of dark, surreal comedy, or the underground movement. Chances are that if you have a short attention span, or stay with the mainstream, it's not for you. Praise Jack Lord!
Originally intended to be a one-shot summer replacement for Saturday Night
Live, "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" was never aired due to its aggressive,
in-your-face humor: "Christmas on Other Planets," "The Church of the Jack
Lord," "Laser Bra 2000," "Nazi Oven Mitts," and musical performances by
RootBoy Slim and the Sex Change Band and by Sid Vicious. Never aired by
due to problems with the censors, instead it received very limited
theatrical release. Beware the now-existing video version (if you can
it), as the Sid Vicious performance of "My Way" is missing audio-- instead
you get a scroll over the video explaining that Paul Anka, who wrote "My
Way" refused to give rights to the video. Too bad-- it was pretty damn
The movie is sketch comedy at its sickest, not too different from the best of SNL or "TunnelVision": one of the funnier pieces ("Beautiful Women Love Disgusting Men") has Deborah Harry telling the audience that she thinks "it's cute when guys miss the toilet seat."
A must-see. Simply incredible.
"Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" is almost indescribable in terms of its
mind-blowing bizarreness. This is Michael O'Donoghue's vision unfettered and
it's not a pretty sight. (This is, of course, not to discount the
contributions of his fellow writers Mitch Glazer, Emily Prager and Dirk
Wittenborn, but this is Mr. Mike's show through and through.)
This is definitely the sort of film that has a polarizing effect on its audience. You either love it or hate it; it's hard to feel indifferent about it. Personally, I think it's brilliant, even if each individual segment isn't. Some things -- like the Klaus Nomi dream sequence and the cat tossing -- go on a bit too long, but they're almost invariably followed by something which is outrageous and/or laugh-out-loud funny. (My favorite segments are the non sequitur-like commercial lead-ins --"Gig Young's groceries... Looking up Cheryl Tieg's dress.")
A must-see for fans of Michael O'Donoghue. As a cultural document it is irreplaceable.
I rented this last night, after having been impressed by the credentials
the fact that NBC refused to air it. Very rarely has a video failed to
live up to such lofty expectations; then again, I may have expected too
Even though I knew from the first two sketches that this was going to be a very annoying and unfunny video, I stayed with it, expecting that, at some point or another, the show would connect--say something funny, make some sort of original statement, anything. Nothing. It aims to be shocking, but ends up extremely boring. (Throwing a cat into the pool is funny. Turning that one single act into a long, slo-mo montage of cats being throwin into the pool--well, it seemed like five minutes instead of two. And two minutes is about 100 seconds longer than this sketch had to be.)
Much of this is stream-of-consciousness in the vein of Monty Python, only without any of the wit. Most of the jokes seem to have been written by O'Donoghue at three a.m. while coked out in a room with only a typewriter. (Am I far from the truth? I'm not up on my SNL trivia.)
Watch this video as a lesson on how to take what is potentially hilarous and cut it off at the knees. It also stands out as a document that testifies to a very empty and decadent niche in our cultural history.
In short, it stinks on so many levels.
It is a real shame that nearly no one under 30 knows the "over the top"
writing of Michael O'Donoghugh- magazine articles and SNL skits that
were genius for the time...and so it is a true shame that anyone who
may take the opportunity to research his work will no doubt take the
easy way out and watch videos- thus leading them to MR MIKES MONDO
This movie has clever elements that never fully connect to the funny bone. The viewer experiences such things as cat diving/swimming with the man who thinks he's found feline happiness by hurling these kittens into a pool which the camera follows in slow motion and montage sequence. Then we are taken to an island to where all past fads are retired (hula hops, pet rocks, rainbow dread wigs etc.) Then we enter the music world (punk was a new variety of music at the time of this film) where "D" rate bar performer Rootboy Slim performs "boogie till you puke" in his own lazy style of dirt and eclectic sleaze. Now the real beauty of all this is the back ground music. In many different styles with many different instruments the sound of TELSTAR plays and replays- for those who don't understand Telstar was the first American Satellite launched into space and the theme was created to celebrate mans genius and triumph. MR MIKES seems to have been meant as a signal of societal decay ridiculous wastes. Now one thing the theater offered that the video release does not was a live performance of Sid Vicious (ex sex pistol not the wrestler) singing MY WAY. His version is very different than Sinatras as one might imagine but frankly I feel it is very much worth the listen...it's good! That is the sad part- in the VHS release Paul Anka refuses the rights of his song and the viewer is forced to experience 3 1/2 minutes of silence with an explanation rolling across the image of the singing dead sex pistol.
I would give the theater release a 5 or 6 the video is closer to a 4 and now that so much is passé I can see where many people would give it a 3 or 2.5. If you want to see a good O'Donoghugh script watch SCROOGED...it is a better tribute to the mans insight and talent.
If you enjoy the original SNL cast and shows then avoid this movie at all costs. When this first came out my friends and I waited in line for over an hour to get in to a sold out movie house. half way through the movie the theatre was 3/4 empty. We refused to leave thinking it would get better. When the movie ended we were the only ones left in the theatre. The movie lasted only one day in all theaters then vanished from sight. In interviews with "Mr. Mike" he refused to comment on this film. The film was an inside joke on the episodes of SNL that came out right after the films release and closing in one day. We all tried to contact "Mr. Mike" by phone and mail to get a refund but were totally ignored.
I looked forward to seeing this movie when it came out, since I was a
huge SNL fan. When my boyfriend and I went to see it, the people coming
out of the early show were yelling, "Don't waste your money!" But of
course we had to find out for ourselves.
While there were a few funny bits (Laser Bra 2000, Root Boy Slim), most of it felt like it could have been severely edited down to an amusing 1 hour show. It was pretty bad.
When the opera singer came on, many people got up and walked out. This made me laugh, because I realized that O'Donoghue was just pressing people's buttons on purpose with this movie. Or else he was just insane. Whatever - you don't need to waste your time watching it, it's that bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Continuing to review the early works of "SNL"ers in movies and TV, we're now at 1979 with the release of Mr. Mike's Mondo Video. Michael O'Donoghue had just left "SNL" and did this thing after doing so. It was supposed to run on NBC but it was judged as too risky so it ended up running in movie theatres. One look at the content and you can see why: the first sequence has someone throwing cats in a swimming pool to demonstrate their ability in the water. Good thing they actually can swim here. Dan Aykroyd proves he's a mutant when he takes a Phillips screwdriver and puts it between the webs in his toes. Aykroyd also appears in a hilarious sketch called "The House of Jack Lord" with him preaching to an audience of Lord worshipers. Also appearing in that one is Rhonda Coullet who sings a spiritual with Lord's name inserted in. Loved her in both this and National Lampoon's Lemmings from a week or so ago. Bill Murray also appears as one of his "SNL" characters as a man on the street. Then there's Jane Curtin, Lorraine Newman, and Gilda Radner as three of several women praising the bad habits of men (also appearing among them are Judy Jacklin-John Belushi's wife, Susan Forristal-Lorne Michaels' about-to-be then-wife, and Edie Baskin-"SNL"s then photographer). The version I saw showed the performance of Sid Vicious performing "My Way" but the audio was cut with the disclaimer of supposedly Paul Anka not wanting it there. Oh, and "SNL" musician Paul Shaffer was also in the Jack Lord segment. Overall, Mr. Mike's Mondo Video had plenty of weird images that I mostly laughed at. So on that note, that's a definite recommendation.
I saw this movie in 1979, I was 17 or 18, when it was released. The theater was perhaps 1/4 full when the movie started. Ten minutes into the movie me and the friend who went with me to see the film were the only two people in the theater. The movie was really weird and had no plot or reason to its script and people demanded their money back. We decided to stay for the ENTIRE movie.... why endure such torture??... here's why. We wanted to be true movie critics... to have a standard to base all other movies on it is hard to justify saying you have seen the best movie (a 10)they always come up with something better. But, it is easy to be able to base all other movies off of the worst movie ever made (and this is it... a 1 at best). There may be other movies out there that truly qualify as a 1, but I have yet to see them. I now base all movies I see on a scale based on this worst....I AM A TRUE MOVIE CRITIC...he he.
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