“Oh my god! We have to watch this movie!” I could tell my mom found something she loved on TV. We had been going through a movie watching phase where every few nights we found something on cable and would stay up making popcorn. “You will love this, it’s hilarious.” She said with utmost confidence.
“What’s it about?” I replied while shoveling popcorn in my face by the handful. Why has evolution not kicked in and made it so we can eat popcorn like normal humans instead of rabid badgers? Anyway, my mother explained that this movie we were about to watch starred the guy from Willy Wonka. At this time I was not as into movies as I am now, so I was naïve and uninformed. She continued to explain the movie was in black and white. I slightly protested because I thought it would be boring, but still we sat in to watch a movie called Young Frankenstein.
I love comedies, always have. Which characters did I always adore in these movies? Whoever got the biggest laughs! So Igor was a natural selection as the best part of this movie. But with age and viewing after viewing of this film I noticed that what Gene Wilder was doing in this film was art. Every comedy has a straight man to react to crazy around him. Gene was a master at this. Going from calm to frantic in seconds, he showed me that some of the best parts and biggest laughs isn’t the person jumping around making crazy noises.
Willy Wonka is a character that is a step away from insanity (boat ride, people). I feel this movie is viewed by most as a group of kids and their parents going into a fantastical world and reacting to the crazy around them. I see it as man who lives in the “fantastical” and invited the outside world into his. He plays the guide, he explains answers to questions, he reacts to these wild and sometimes offensive children stereotypes with perfect comedic timing… the list goes on, even though I may be the only person to see Willy Wonka as the straight man in that film.
Either way, my brain and my sense of humor was shaped by Young Frankenstein. and I owe a lot to Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder and the entire cast for giving me something to show to my kids… at the right age.
I am deeply saddened by Gene Wilders passing. I will think of him often and relive his films constantly. Battling Alzheimer’s is always tragic, so my heart goes out to his family and fans. I really wanted to include one of the best musical numbers in film, so I have attached it below. Rest in peace Gene. You beautiful bastard.
*Fun fact – we put the DVD player in garage years ago (due to Netflix) but recently I was cleaning and plugged it in and found this movie still inside.*