A Fine Mess (1986) Poster


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A big guilty pleasure
jhaggardjr9 August 2000
"A Fine Mess" is a sloppy comedy from Blake Edwards, director of "Micki + Maude", "Victor/Victoria", "10", and the "Pink Panther" films. I first saw "A Fine Mess" at the theater with my best friend when it first came out. I was only 15 years old at the time, and we laughed our heads off. You would think that today I would find this film to be incredibly stupid. Well, I just watched it again recently, and I still laughed at this movie. That makes "A Fine Mess" a huge guilty pleasure of mine. It's about Ted Danson and Howie Mandel getting mixed up in a fixed horse race, and spend parts of the movie running from two clumsy gangsters (Richard Mulligan and Stuart Margolin) who are responsible for creating this fixed horse race on orders from their mob boss (Paul Sorvino). In the midst of this fine mess they fall in love with beauties Maria Conchita Alonso and Jennifer Edwards (Blake's daughter). This movie was no doubt an embarrassment to Edwards, Danson, Mandel, Sorvino, and especially Mulligan and Margolin. They all make total fools of themselves. But I laughed anyway. It's notable for an appearence by a pre-"NYPD Blue" Dennis Franz and a bit part by a pre-"Babe" James Cromwell. But one thing I'll always remember about "A Fine Mess" is film critic Rex Reed's thrashing of the movie on the movie review show "At the Movies" when he and co-host Bill Harris (taking over for Siskel and Ebert) were reviewing their choices for the worst movies of 1986. Reed started saying quote "Well at least part of the title is accurate. "A Fine Mess". Well it's worse than a mess. It was an all out disaster, and there's nothing fine about it." It was quite obvious that Reed gave "A Fine Mess" no stars. But I give it three stars. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help it. This movie does make me laugh. If you decide to watch this, remember to check your brain at the door.

*** (out of four)
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A fine....little distraction
mcfly-313 August 2005
A definite "check your brain at the door" comedy, one of the most plot less films ever, but manages some good characters and situations. Danson, pigeon-holed as his "Cheers" character Sam Malone, plays another womanizer here, this time an actor. While shooting a film at a racetrack, he overhears the doping of a philly, and though seen, decides to bet the horse the next day. Two movie-type hit men dingbats spend the next twenty minutes chasing him by foot and car all over the place. Along for the ride is Danson's buddy Mandel, who gets swept up in the madness. There's also an auctioneer, a Mob wife, her grumbling husband, two cops on the trail, and a disgruntled brother in law. Edwards attempt at an all-out comedy comes off here and there, but the film has no real direction. A bunch of gags are clustered along the business of Danson and Mandel avoiding a bullet from the two hitguys. But for whatever reason, I let it slide and just enjoyed what was given. Danson at about 40 and Mandel in his 20s, though never explained how they know each other, had a great chemistry. Seemed like they had been buddies a while, and clicked on-screen. Throw in some Mandel bits like voices or eating soap, and you can't help but laugh. Especially his moment in an Indian restaurant where he disregards the diners and lets loose after eating....something. Danson milks being slapped in the face and chasing women, and an odd boon to the film is the up-beat soundtrack. From the Temptations to Mr. Mister, it came off energetic. In fact, I don't recall any scenes of score used in the film. It all culminates in a chaotic finish involving a piano and another chase, so it may be worth a shot if you're into stretching your funnybone.
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A Mess, Yes....But Fine As Well!
alexandraslate21 October 2002
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the number of viewers whose comments generally trashed this picture, but I must admit that I'm astonished at the snobbery of some people when it comes to comedy.

Not every movie has to have an intricate plot, Oscar caliber performances, and a perfect script to be a noteworthy movie. We have movies like Citizen Kane, The Killing Fields, A Dry White Season, Rain Man ect... for that. The most important aspect of a comedy is whether or not it is genuinely funny, and there's no way one can say that this flick is not.

Just about every scene in the film is funny, physical as well as dialogue. Howie Mandel cracked me up constantly with the strange voices he used. It's vulgar in parts, and sure, the plot is weak. So what. It does it's job. Blake Edwards is a master at comedy. He never leaves me disappointed.

If you're looking for a movie that will leave you with a sore ribcage at the end, this one will do the trick. As comedies go, I'd give it an 8/10.
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"It's a fine mess..."
znowhite0114 February 2002
My heart sinks when I see a 3.8 User Rating for this hilarious comedy. You got Danson and Mandel in their prime and Edwards behind the camera. OK, it should have been better, but there's still some of Blake's trademark slapstick we all know and love from classics like A Shot in the Dark and The Party. Richard Mulligan is a standout as a dopey hood who places his shotgun in front of his crotch before firing. The plot, if you want to call it that, has more holes than a swiss cheese convention but I was laughing so hard I didn't care.
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I thought this was actually a fine comedy.
Aaron137517 December 2010
This just shows how out of touch I am when it comes to comedies. The score for this film is only four, but I actually really enjoyed it. I thought the film was funny through the whole film for the most part and I enjoyed Howie Mandel and Ted Danson's performances in this one. Granted there were a few jokes that really did not work such as the auction where they accidentally bid on the piano, but jokes that did not work all that well were few and far between for me. The film is kind of all over the place, but it centers a bit on a horse racing doping scheme that a man overhears. He is chased and ends up placing bets on said horse. He and his friend then end up buying a piano for a large sum by accident and then proceed to sell it to a person of dubious character. The buddies are played well by two guys who were more known for television at the time in Mandel and Danson. Danson is basically just doing a variation of Sam Malone from "Cheers" in this one, but it works and I thought he was very funny. Richard Mulligan also is in this one, and once again someone who would be known for a television role. The ending was good too. Well good for me, I liked this one, but from the score here I would guess that not many share my opinion of this one. So while I enjoyed it and think it was humorous I would read the other reviews of those who did not like it all that much to get the whole picture.
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Originally Intended for Burt Reynolds and Richard Pryor
socchiato19 December 2005
When Blake Edwards initially was putting this film together it was originally intended to star Burt Reynolds and Richard Pryor. Unfortunately due to Pryor's near fatal burning the film had to be recast. The Films original Title was 'The Music Box' taken from the Laurel & Hardy short film of the same title. Was made as a homage to classic comedies . Did not fair well at the box office. ************************************************************ ************************************************************ ************************************************************ ************************************************************
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A great movie.
Cletus-312 December 1998
I really enjoyed this movie. It didn't have much in the way of writing, but it was funny, entertaining, and made me feel like I spent my time well. All in all a great little flick to watch when you want to relax and enjoy yourself.
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"Good, Underrated 80's Comedy!"
gwnightscream25 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Ted Danson, Howie Mandel, Richard Mulligan, Stuart Margolin, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jennifer Edwards and Paul Sorvino star in Blake Edwards' 1986 comedy. Danson (Cheers) plays Spence Holden, an actor & womanizer who discovers a horse-doping plot to fix a race. He decides to capitalize with help from his friend, Dennis Powell (Mandel) and they become chased by thugs, Binky (Margolin) & Turnip (Mulligan) who work for mob boss, Tony Pazzo (Sorvino). Alonso (The Running Man) plays Tony's wife, Claudia who finds romance with Spence and Edwards (Blake's daughter) plays Ellen Frankenthaler, an auction secretary who finds romance with Dennis. Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue) appears as Spence's brother-in-law, Phil, Rick Ducommun (The 'Burbs) also appears as Ordell, Dennis' uptight boss and he & Mandel were also in "Little Monsters" 3 years after this. I watched this growing up and always enjoyed it. I think it's underrated and Danson & Mandel are great together. I recommend this good 80's comedy.
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It's a mess alright--but not fine
preppy-32 February 2006
Two idiots (Ted Danson, Howie Mandel) plan to bet on a horse in a race that's fixed to win. But they have to deal with the Mob and the Mob's head wife who is sleeping around.

Wow--is this BAD! I saw it in a theatre in 1986 and remember hating it and being really amazed at how lousy this was. I figured with Ted Danson in it (who was popular from 'Cheers' at the time) it couldn't be bad. Well, I was wrong! He tries but the material is hopeless. Mandel was just annoying. The rest of the cast are just there.

Purportedly Danson shot nude scenes for this movie but they weren't in the final cut. Also there were sequences shot with Danson and Mandel imitating old Laurel and Hardy routines (hence the title) but THOSE were cut too. I heard the studio was horrified by the final result (no shock there) and just released it very quietly and it died a quick deserved death. Easily one of the worst comedies of its time. Just painful. Avoid.
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Only Here
whitesheik13 December 2005
Only at the IMDb can one find multiple positive comments for awful films - doesn't matter how awful, what film, who made it, or who's in it - the film will have its defenders.

Well, I'm sorry to say, this film cannot be defended on any level, and this comes from someone who will pretty much go to the mat to defend Blake Edwards, because I think he's a great director. But, this film comes from his worst period - where he was making one completely unfunny film after another. This, however, is the nadir of his career. There is not one funny gag (and I cannot say the same about any other Edwards film), not one funny performance, not one patented Edwards great comedy shot, just and endless series of terrible gags, all rehashed from better films, until this thing finally limps to its stupid conclusion. One knows one is in trouble the minute the film begins, when one is assaulted by an insipid rock-and-roll (circa 80s) song instead of a witty or tuneful Mancini score. One knows one is in further trouble when there is not one single note of Mancini music in the film, even though he receives credit for Original Music. The only Mancini piece, save for the title song, is source music for a player piano. Otherwise, we get Blake trying to be hip and using rock songs - well, they not only stink, but they kill the comedy.

I think I'm going to look up what are generally considered the worst films ever made, and my guess is that every single one of them will have at least five people saying it's a misunderstood masterpiece. Of course, what one comes to realize are that these "reviews" are written by people who were kids when they saw the films in question - and when that's the scenario, they love everything they saw as kids. No person with any critical faculties could think A Fine Mess is anything but A Fine Mess.
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Credit where credit is due.
jlm200218 September 2005
I just saw this movie tonight, actually the last twenty minutes, and according to IMDb, it says that Dennis Franz is non credited, but as the credits rolled, he was in them...

It was an OK movie, and I enjoyed what I did see, and looking at the actors before they were household names was funny too.

It is a good movie for those of you who wish to just sit back and laugh at good old slapstick, and mindless entertainment.

Ted Danson is always hilarious, and found it quite funny seeing him make himself comfortable behind the bar in the mansion. His character was hilarious as the skirt chasing fool, just as his future character, Sam Malone would be in Cheers!

Cheers to all the actors who have gone on to make better and bigger movies, and shows!
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Mess yes..fine no
goya-430 September 2000
A Fine Mess is a perfect description of this movie..Ted Danson and Howie Mandel star in this disaster about a couple of goofs who overhear a plan to dope a horse and then get involved and chased.

The movie is dull, boring and completely unfunny..I think this was made too early in the careers of Danson and Mandel...made five years later with a better script it would've been much much better..

On a scale of one to ten..0
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Latter-day Edwards....
Mister-625 August 1999
You can't blame Blake Edwards for making this kind of movie.

For years, he depended on the kind of pratfalls that course through "A Fine Mess" as his bread and butter, so to speak. They served the "Pink Panther" series well, and made Inspector Clouseau a world-wide reference point for the ultimate in clumsiness.

But for a movie that basically features two losers crossing the mob in a horse race then moving a piano to a rich lady's house, this film is all over the place. So many people introduced then forgotten, plot lines that go nowhere, laughs that are fun for the moment but have no context.

Shocking, really, this coming as it does from Blake Edwards, who once personified classy comedy with such works as the aforementioned "Panther" films, not to mention classics like "10", "Micki + Maude" and the under-appreciated "S.O.B.".

And with the calibre of talent, you'd expect great things; the manic Mandel, lecherous Danson, luxuriant Alonzo, and wackos like Mulligan and Margolin as mob flunkies all have the fire, but there's just nothing here to stoke the furnace.

There were separate moments here and there that gave me a smile but, like the movie itself, it just lives for the moment, then is gone.

TIDBIT - The idea for this movie actually came from a Laurel and Hardy short where Stan and Ollie try to move a huge piano up innumerable flights of stairs. Hence, the name.

It still is fitting: this movie is definitely a "Mess", if not a "Fine" one.

Three stars. Saved but for the virtue of Mulligan in the cast and a bit part for pre-"NYPD Blue" Franz.
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I Love You "Maria Conchita Alonso" !
ahmed elshikh20 November 2007
That was our first date ! Although seems like crappy opportunity, putting in mind that this was one of (Blake Edwards)'s least important movies, but she was spectacular. I said to myself this girl is one spicy Latino, and Hollywood itself has never seen anything like her before.

I think that everything about her is quite sexy. The foxy smile, the seductive voice, the loose dark hair… Actually there was enough witchcraft to make a new intercontinental missile which could really set us on fire after we go ballistic !

The second date was at (Moscow on the Hudson), and I just lost for words.. what can I say ? More magic ? Or more feminine ?! She was perfectly breathtaking!

Then, the third meeting was on the run, at (The Running Man). Well, to tell you the truth, that beauty was so violent !

After that…we broke up ! As I've never seen her again except for one time; at the photos section of IMDb, that was after 20 years since the last time I've been infatuated by her genuine charm. I wanted just to ask her "Where are you ?".. so the visionary specter would answer rightly "in the movies, baby!"

...I thought that she didn't get the whole chance to be more than her dazzling image as a Latino heat (like Antonio Banderas !), or maybe she didn't have anything more to present, or maybe that was what she wants !

At any rate, I love you Maria Conchita Alonso !
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Blake Edwards' death rattle
grizzledgeezer6 April 2014
Perhaps I shouldn't review a film I've only seen 15 minutes of (on this), but I need to further offset the (sort-of) favorable reviews here.

If one believes the Wikipedia article (qv), "A Fine Mess" was originally intended as an altogether different film that, after poor previews and studio interference, ended up as the humorless mess we see here. Edwards supposedly urged people /not/ to see it -- so why did he allow his name to appear above the title, as well as take writing/directing credit?

The script is mostly clichéd expository dialog of the sort screenwriters are warned to avoid like the plague. It's so unengaging it's surprising audiences didn't walk out after the first five minutes. (Perhaps they'd fallen asleep.)

This wasn't Edwards' last film, but nothing that followed was of any distinction. His last good film was "Victor/Victoria". For the rest of his career, he was running on empty.

If you have a chance to see "A Fine Mess", by all means do so. I doubt you'll be able to get past the first 15 minutes, even out of curiosity. If so, let me know.
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They got the "mess" part of the title right.
Scott LeBrun24 November 2013
Give him credit, filmmaker Blake Edwards was still trying to create the kind of frantic farce and slapstick that had served him so well in such features as the "Pink Panther" series. The trouble is, his material this time is weak, and simply not funny too much of the time (at least, in this viewers' humble opinion). It's not that the cast doesn't try to create that madcap feel. They really give this dud better performances than it deserves.

Ted Danson is typically amusing in a very Sam Malone-type part, as an insatiable struggling actor named Spence. He overhears a plot to fix a horse race by drugging one of the animals, and tries to capitalize on this knowledge. Unfortunately, the mob finds out that he knows, and utterly brainless goons 'Turnip' (Richard Mulligan) and 'Binky' (Stuart Margolin) spend the balance of the movie trying to silence them, with spectacular lack of success. Meanwhile, Spences' buddy Dennis (Howie Mandel), a carhop with aspirations of being a chef, inadvertently purchases a player piano at an auction, only for a super sexy lady named Claudia (smoldering Maria Conchita Alonso) - whose identity is not hard to figure out - to buy it from him.

Edwards, who also gives his actress daughter Jennifer a key role as auction house employee Ellen, does give "A Fine Mess" energy to spare. The audience will note how quickly it moves along. And the stunts certainly are impressive. Some familiar faces in the supporting cast help matters a little. Paul Sorvino doesn't exactly stretch himself as the head mafioso. Mulligan and Margolin, especially Mulligan, mug for the camera like crazy. Also appearing are Rick Ducommun, Keye Luke (whose role is really much too small), Tawny Moyer, Rick Overton, Teddy Wilson, Larry Storch, Frederick Coffin, Vic Polizos, James Cromwell, and Dennis Franz. But as hard as these actors try, the laughs just aren't there most of the time.

At the least, it's enjoyable to see Danson looking like he's having the time of his life.

Four out of 10.
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