The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
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In terms of laughs per minute, this one is a strong contender for funniest movie of all time. Written by Zucker Abraham and Zucker, directed by John Landis, and produced by Samuel L Bronkowitz (just kidding), "The Kentucky Fried Movie" is really nothing more than a collection of skits, barely connected by the convention that they're all things you might see on TV (or at the movies). But, oh, the skits. Let's just say that no single episode of "Saturday Night Live" was ever this funny.
Best of the bunch is the movie's centerpiece, "A Fistful of Yen", a dead-on parody of kung fu action movies a la "Enter The Dragon". In this bit, the longest in the film, a Bruce Lee type named Loo has to infiltrate a mountain fortress run by the villainous Dr. Klahn, who is building an army of extraordinary magnitude. The martial arts scenes are hilarious; it may be the most staged-looking fighting of all time. Beginning with Loo training other fighters ("What was that? This is not a chawade. We need total concen-TWAY-tion," he yells at one student) and ending with Loo finally going home (in a completely out-of-left-field ending having nothing to do with the previous action but seeming somehow fitting anyway), the slapstick jokes come fast and furious, even parodying "The Dating Game" at one point. This is a direct precursor to ZAZ's later movies like "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun".
Then there's the incredible "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble", which aims to parody 70s porno flicks ("More shocking than 'Behind the Green Door'... Never before has the beauty of the sexual act been so crassly exploited!" the announcer screams.) To get an idea of the kind of humor seen here, picture a hot chick approaching a loser and saying in a breathy voice "Show me your nuts!" and the guy proceeding to start acting like a total loon. In "United Appeal for the Dead" Henry Gibson speaks at great length about death, the number one killer in the United States, and what his group can do to help a loved one who has died lead a normal life. "That's Armageddon" features George Lazenby and parodies every Irwin Allen disaster flick made. A young man and woman discover the pleasures of sex through an instructional record in "Sex Record", and "Courtroom" is a hilarious parody of courtroom melodramas featuring Wally (the real Tony Dow) and the Beav (Jerry Zucker mugging it up in place of Jerry Mathers) as observers. The movie begins and ends with two news-themed skits, "AM Today" and the racy "Eyewitness News", in which the newscasters watch a couple with the TV on having sex. And there's much more.
"The Kentucky Fried Movie" is not for all tastes; I've known people who have watched it and just said "This is stupid." It is, indeed, stupid, but within the confines of the genre, it's one of the best. You'll laugh at the stupid jokes and stupid puns and stupid lines and stupid stunts all the way through if you like this sort of thing. The movie is very clever in how it packs the laughs.
Not only did this movie make me burst a gut, but its a great satire of, well, everything. It's the remedy to any tear-jerker and also a great movie to watch when there's, "just nothing on that night", sit through it, have some laughs, and enjoy it. There's nothing better to it.
Of course, the main skit, "A fistful of yen" was absolute genius. The moves, and the way they were all made, was absolute prodegetic. I praise David and Jerry Zucker for this, and again, John Landis continues to make great movies. This, for one, is probably in his best other than "Animal House" and "The Blues Brothers".
Serve up the chicken, because this movie is going to eat your heart out!
As for KFM, what makes this small movie so special? Although much of the movie is done tastelessly, it is fun tastelessness that everyone in it is enjoying it. There is a lot of nudity and foul language, but it had it's heart in the right place. And as for the cast, there are mostly unknown actors, and many of them are quite attractive and talented, with cameos by more famous actors such as the late Bill Bixby in a headache sketch, Donald Sutherland as a clumsy waiter in a sketch spoofing disaster movies, and "Leave it to Beaver" stars Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow kidding themselves as bickering brother jurors in the courtroom sketch.
This movie, I think, is the best spoof of pop culture I've ever seen, outdoing its predecessor "The Groove Tube," made 3years earlier than KFM and featuring bits by a then-unknown and pre-Saturday Night Live Chevy Chase. One of my favorite skits are "A.M. Today" with a gorilla rampaging the studio, scaring off everyone, while a calm anchorwoman (played by the lovely little-known actress Janice Kent)continues her duties of reporting the news. Another favorite is"Sex Records," with a black couple being instructed on lovemaking by a record until the woman is whisked away by a black muscleman, Yet another favorite is "Feel-A-Round," where a theatre usher listens to the dialogue of a movie, gets out his props to feel a movie goer, even scaring him with a knife when the actress announces she'll cut up her lover with a knife. Then there is the final skit where a newsman from TV has the power to peer into the living room of a young couple having sex, and his crew (well-played by ZAZ themselves) leer on. But the best sketch of all is "A Fistful of Yen," a 17-minute takeoff of Bruce Lee Movies featuring a lisping Karate champ fighting against the master despot Dr. Klahn, who wants to take over the world, and ends with the Hero in Dorothy drag spoofing "The Wizard of Oz."
If you like your DVDs, and of a low-budget movie, KFM delivers the goods. Hopefully, there will be a special edition of "Airplane!" in the future for fans of that movie who were disappointed in the DVD treatment of that great classic , but let's not hold our breaths. But for ZAZ fans, KFM was the best DVD work they have done so far, and it's a special edition in its own right, outshining and outselling "Airplane!" by a substantial margin.
When calling for his bodyguards, he calls them by various Korean food items rather than real names. Crude, but hilarious, especially with his delivery.
I wonder if "Deep Throat" was supposed to be something about Watergate. If so, then that would have been some scandal!
You have to see "Enter the dragon" before you watch this to avoid a complete fall of the senses in the Kung Fu episode,that is damn looong, but anyway this movie can keep you laughing your pants with episodes like the one with Woody (NIGGEEEEEEERS!)and the Special FX Theater sequence, or the sex lessons, or even else, i mean, everything in this movie sucks, the nonsense reigns, is the land of paradox...
Did i mention this is the best movie ever if you want to laugh? Airplane and Top Secret can suck on this, and actually they did!!!!
Then do yourself a great favor and buy,rent or borrow Kentucky Fried Movie and take yourself into a time when filmmakers had the guts to try new,different and very risky things! All for the better too because there's a place for well formed & written comedy but there's also a need for the truly outlandish and just downright silly and insane! You think "There's Something About Mary" and "American Pie" are the originators of the kind of humor that the squeamish run from? Not by a long shot their not.
Just before this movie was "The Groove Tube" which was just as wild,I'm sure John Landis (the man who brought you "Animal House" & other great comedy capers)was inspired by that film to try this as well.
While the opening "A.M. Today" segment is not as funny as the rest,it's amusing enough a start to lead into the funnier comedy moments. The R-rated style commercial parodies and the movie trailer for "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble". (Don't worry ladies & gentleman,these fully undressed ladies look far too old for high school or even college!) These are classic and hilarious,unless you're the most uptight person on the face of the earth.
The extended segment "Fist Full Of Yen",a Bruce Lee movie parody is excellent as well,where in the opening shot it says "Hong Kong" over a shot of New York (Twin Towerspresent and all). The hero takes on what seems like a hundred challengers and beats them all! More absurd movie trailers & commercials follow returning us to the ongoing news segment that leads to the very creative and well timed closing segment.
Safe to say,not everyone likes this kind of a movie with it's open nudity,sexuality and almost high schoolish humor but apart from those ideals is very well staged and funny comedy segments. These make SNL & MAD TV look tame by comparison. Given how America's overall tastes have changed a great deal the people who would enjoy this will by,again,getting the movie and watching at their leisure.
Those who wouldn't want to even be in the same room as the DVD/VHS tape,will never relent or even try and have the open mind to watch it. People that consider this "mindless" will never understand all that went into making the film to start with. Mainly,the overall risk involved in the first place but then again...what fun is life without risk? About as fun as watching a digital clock turn the next minute.
So, these 2 rate as among the best. Along with Blazing Saddles, of course.
I liked the feel of this movie, it had a Saturday Night Live feel to it with more edge. Sort of speak, what SNL couldn't get away with, this movie did. I did enjoy KFM over all. It had some very funny sketches and clever ideas. Is it the best made movie of all time? Of course not. This is when John was just getting started. And you can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs, right? Ha ha ha... ha. Blah. Anywho, I think John Landis fans should have fun with this and I think you'll enjoy it. It's a pretty funny movie after all.
Evan C.Kim is hilarious as the Bruce Lee imitation, playing out (almost scene for scene) the Master's exploits from "Enter the Dragon", even down to the detail of his encounters with Dr Han's (here, played by Master Bong Soo Han) guards ("Let's meet the guards!"). There's great mileage in a steamy "preview" of "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble", starring fictitious "Linda Chambers" (no prizes for guessing the amalgam) daring one stud to show her his nuts (Steven Bishop no less!) with an hilarious response. Some audiences might also recognise the amply attributed Uschi Digart in a prolonged shower scene, while Donald Sutherland, Henry Gibson and Bill Bixby bring some A-list credibility to bear in speedy cameos.
There's a couple of minor misfires, and it's certainly not suitable for kids but generally speaking, this is one of the most consistently hilarious films I've ever had the pleasure of watching - over and over again for the last twenty-something years. I never tire of seeing George Cheung (as Guard number two) announce his name - Long Wang - then explain how he would wake Dr Han if he was his alarm clock. If you don't find this film funny, no offence intended, but you may need to see somebody.
The stand out "Main Feature" is a parody of the 1973 breakthrough martial arts film, Enter the Dragon. As was exacerbated in the writers' next effort, the aforementioned Airplane!, the visual gags are sometimes quite brilliant. I first came across this film when I was quite young. I'm not really sure how this would be viewed today. As I mentioned, this is very much a part of the 1970's. But if you love the blaxploitation, sexploitation et al trailers and movies, then there is certainly some fun to be had with these. There's a splattering of double entendre, and a more exponentially greater visual helping of T&A. It is a good comedy sketch film, with the usual quality problems with the format (i.e. not all the parts will be as good as others). And for those who suffer from premature ejaculation, this film comes with... Big Jim Slade.
The film is essentially a series of skits, ranging from very funny to dated, spoofing commercials, porno, disaster movies, blaxploitation, local news, courtroom and classic television, and Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon. Plenty of tasteless skits, particularly the "Scot Free" board game commercial commenting on the JFK assassination, "United Appeal for the Dead" featuring a very serious Henry Gibson(..I mean perfect cold delivery adds so much to the audacious material)informing us on dealing with death(..how parents keep their dead son around for daily activities must be seen to be believed!), "Classic High School Girls in Trouble" showcasing the attributes offered in porno of the time, and "Eyewitness News" featuring a couple slowly disrobing and engaging in sexual relations while newscasters look on from a television set as they were reporting news for the day.
"A Fistful of Yen" features the superb casting of Evan C Kim as a Bruce Lee lookalike with a very animated face, physical presence to associate himself into that likeness, and a martial arts ability well mimicking the master's style of fighting. There are a plethora of sight gags and references that should be a delight for fans of "movie spoofs"..this is really the spoof that resembles the design the Zuckers and Abrahams are known for. I love the raunchiness and politically incorrect nature of it all, particularly the unabashed presence of nudity, which kind of shocked me to tell you the truth. The Pam Grier / blaxploitation gag, "Cleopatra Schwartz" featuring Marilyn Joi as the titular bad ass and her partner / lover a Hasidic Jew(!) had me in ribbons. The spoof on classic B&W television, "Courtroom" was another wonderfully perverse highlight containing the use of a dildo, while also poking delightful fun at Leave it to Beaver and Perry Mason..this one is layered with numerous sexual jokes and sight gags. And, how could I leave off Rick Baker and his gorilla tearing apart a public broadcasting station! Actors such as Bill Bixby, Donald Sutherland, George Lazenby, and the writers themselves all turn up in various skits. And, as expected, there's a commercial spoofing the Hari Krishna, titled "Willer Bear"!
Coming from me, this should mean a lot. My very own mother is depicted in the most-memorable "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble" segment: "Mrs. Burke" -- from the 1968 POST Grape-Nuts commercial -- played here by Gwen Van Dam. (You can see the real "Mrs. Burke" at the Burke Family Grape-Nuts Archives)
As the son of a most virtuous Catholic mother, herself quite unlike the character in this film, I might easily be offended. Yet, in this case, I feel honored to see my mom's name roll in the credits of this clever flick.
Many of the skits are excellent. The much praised piece, "A Fistful of Yen" (the spoof on Bruce Lee's classic "Enter the Dragon"), is so well done, it truly merits the distinction, "a must see."
I would certainly recommend this film to any adult who is not likely to be offended by nudity and sexual themes. It's a lot of fun!