Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Nancy Allen, Warren Oates, Robert Stack, Treat Williams, Toshiro Mifune, Eddie Deezen, Bobby Di Cicco, Dianne Kay, Slim Pickens, Wendie Jo Sperber, Lionel Stander, John Candy, Patti LuPone, Elisha Cook Jr., Michael McKean, Mickey Rourke
Written by: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, based on a story by John Milius, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 146
Date: 12/13/1979

1941 (1979)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Forward Thrust

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Steven Spielberg has indulged lot of bad filmmaking decisions, but nowhere do they come together with more enthusiastic frequency than in his comedy extravaganza 1941 (1979); there may be a reason Spielberg has shied away from "straight" comedies in the years since. It's long -- it has been shown in many cuts, including a restored 2 hour and 26-minute version -- and choppy, relies on lowbrow, juvenile, and slapstick humor, and is seemingly a waste of many talents. Legendary actors like Christopher Lee, Toshiro Mifune, and Elisha Cook Jr., are barely seen; Slim Pickens is used for a poop joke, Nancy Allen and Tim Matheson are used for a sex joke, Treat Williams is a quasi-rapist, Dan Aykroyd goes crazy, Ned Beatty knocks a house down, and Eddie Deezen makes you want to punch something. Yet it has a cheerful innocence, as well as strikingly beautiful cinematography and editing, and certain moments (especially John Belushi's) can still elicit a smile or a few laughs. It takes place in December of 1941, when Americans rally together to stand tall, and despite all the stupidity, this spirit of togetherness comes through.

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