Saturday, October 03, 2009

Movie Log: Noises Off!

I have it on good authority that Noises Off! is screamingly funny as a play an not quite as strong as a movie, but I haven't seen the former, so I have only the latter to go on. It's also the kind of farce that -- as I realized a little farther into the movie than would have been preferable -- requires the audience to pay close attention in the early going for the jokes to really pay off. Thirdly, the bigger and more farcical a comedy is, the better it plays with an audience (which may be the first objection over again in slightly different clothes).

So when I say that I enjoyed Noises Off!, and found it generally funny but not rolling-in-the-aisles funny, I am admitting that I quite likely would find it much funnier under the right circumstances.

It's a play about a troupe of actors putting on a play -- the kind of door-slamming French farce with a lot of characters running around in their underwear and having pratfalls -- and dealing with their own twisted love affairs and problems. It's also a highly structured show: it runs through the first act of that play (Nothing On) three times, once in dress rehearsal and twice at two different stops of the subsequent tour.

(There are those who claim that the movie Americanizes the play too much -- the actors in the movie are nearly all Americans, and the play is on a tour of minor American cities rather than minor British ones. I'm a massive Anglophile, but I have to admit that all of the people in Noises Off! are very funny, both in general and when they have the right material here.)

If I have a chance to see the play with a decent cast, I'll probably take it; I can see that this material could be extremely funny under the right circumstances. My circumstances weren't nearly so good, so it felt like Noises Off! took a long time to get up to speed -- the first time through mostly serving to set up all of the later jokes -- and it had worn out a lot of its welcome before the good stuff started hitting. I definitely would not recommend watching this movie alone, and it's not great with just one other person, either; it would be best with enough people to make laughter infectious.


Michael A. Burstein said...

The first time I saw this movie was with a group of good friends, and we (metaphorically) laughed our heads off.

Unknown said...

I've seen both the play and the movie-and in my opinion, the play(which had a phenomenal cast) is much funnier.

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