Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Kentucky Fried Movie

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, July 2, 2000

You dream of a new carioca. Its theme is a kiss and a sigh. You dream of a new carioca. When music and lights are gone we say goodbye.

Special features

Cast Information3
Commentary Track7
Making Of5
Photo Gallery6

A funny movie of comedic historical significance. “Kentucky Fried Movie” is outrageous in some parts, dated in many, and utterably unmissable. You’re gonna have to see this at some point in your life, but make sure your mother’s not watching.

DirectorJohn Landis
WritersJim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Movie Rating5
Transfer Quality6
Overall Rating6
  • Enhanced Widescreen
  • Pan and Scan

This is a crazy movie. From the opening “news short” (“the popcorn you’re eating has been pissed in… film at eleven”), it heads straight into a very disgusting oil PR parody involving alternative sources of oil and natural gas. It claims to have been part of the inspiration for “Saturday Night Live”, and you can certainly see the resemblance. Some of the skits are funny, some fall flat, and a few are completely tasteless.

Those, of course, are the best.

The movie actually opens with a Gus Kahn standard from 1933, “The New Carioca”. As far as I can tell, it never ties into anything in the movie. If the song is meant to be symbolic of the ephemeral nature of comedy television, it is the deepest part of the whole movie. If it’s merely a joke, dare I say publicly, I don’t get it.

The “Argon” (oil company) parody is a good example. It is fairly tasteless, quite funny, and heavily dated. Who cares about alternative sources of fuels nowadays?

Among the funniest (and most famous) parts of this movie are “Catholic High School Girls in Trouble” and “Big Jim Slade”. They stand the test of time, and are as funny now as then (which is really too bad in the case of “Catholic High School Girls”). The major portion of the movie is a take-off on Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon”. Remember the early seventies when everybody and their mother went to see Bruce Lee movies?

And then there’s the board game based on the Kennedy assassination… still as offensive today as it was then. In the commentary, John Landis called that skit a better job of making a movie of the conspiracy theories than Stone’s “JFK”.

“Despite millions of dollars of research, death continues to be our nation’s number one killer.” So starts Henry Gibson’s request for money and understanding for those afflicted with death.

The commentary is great. They got John Landis (the director), and writers David and Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams, and producer Robert K. Weiss, and put them in a room to watch the movie together. Apparently for some of them, this is the first time they’ve seen it since it came out. Some nice stories: Jerry and David Zucker made up a cut-up “director’s cut” with the bad parts taken out to show their grandmother. But she liked it enough to go see the uncut version in the movie theaters. “Don’t tell the boys I saw it.”

John Landis has a pretty amazing memory—unless of course he’s making everything up. He remembers quite a few stories about the actors in the skits.

The commentary was filmed specifically for the DVD, in January of 2000. One of my favorite parts of the commentary is where one of them makes fun of the movie—they apparently didn’t know why they were there for the commentary. “Do you think this would hold up today?” “Apparently they’re going to release this on DVD.” “I don’t think it held up then.”

Look for a younger Forrest J. Ackerman in the jury. (If you don’t know who that is, consider yourself normal.)

The “Making Of” I’ve listed is actually home movies by Jerry and David Zucker “to convince their family back east that they were working in Hollywood”. It’s a very interesting look at the making of the movie. Among the more interesting parts are the “Zinc Oxide” scene where everything has to fall apart, and they have to crash a car through a fake wall. Some of other simple stunts are shown from the back end as well.

The stills gallery is nearly as interesting. The stills are from the sets, and show at least one shot that was probably deemed too controversial even for “Kentucky Fried”: watch for the Confederate flag and the watermelon.

“Cast information” is basic information about the director, producer, and writers. Interesting only because I’d never heard of “Jane Austen’s Mafia”.

The picture quality is okay. It’s not great, but then the original probably wasn’t that great. This was not a big-budget film. The audio is presented in mono. The biggest failing is the apparent lack of any multi-lingual capabilities. I can’t even find any close-captioning.

Do you need to buy this movie? Probably not. For long-term viewing, it is most interesting for historical reasons. But it remains a very funny movie, and if you ever liked Saturday Night Live or Second City TV, you’ll want to rent “Kentucky Fried Movie” if you haven’t already seen it. If you are a huge fan of Zucker & Abraham’s other films, such as Airplane or The Naked Gun, you will probably want to purchase this one as well.

Recommendation: Rent

DirectorJohn Landis
WritersJim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Spoken languageEnglish
Special FeaturesCast Information, Commentary Track, Making Of, Photo Gallery, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Kentucky Fried Movie…

If you enjoy John Landis, you might also be interested in Animal House and The Blues Brothers.