The Tall Guy
I’m keeping a list of under-appreciated films and this one is going right on it. One day when I get around to it I will publish the list. It came and went with some good reviews, but it deserved better. It’s Emma Thompson’s first movie (she had worked seven years in television), and stars Jeff Goldblum as an American actor working in London. For five years he’s been second banana to a truly terrible (from what we see of it) stage comedy show, where he is the constant butt of slapstick jokes from the great Rowan Atkinson, who is one of the funniest men in the world but knows how to play bad, both as a comic and a human being. Jeff meets a nurse and falls in love. He’s so shy he endures six months of allergy shots before he dares to ask her to dinner. She says she prefers to spend the night first, then have dinner. What follows is on one of the most boisterous, funniest sex scenes ever made. They virtually destroy her apartment. Later he gets the starring role in the musical version of The Elephant Man, called simply Elephant. It’s the funniest stage production since The Producers. But “Springtime for Hitler” was lampooning a whole different era of Broadway. This one takes on the “serious” musical, like Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, and most of all, Sweeney Todd. Now, I love all three of those, but I can admit they walk a fine line between solemnity and preposterousness. This one is preposterous from beginning to end, made even funnier by the dead seriousness of the cast. The last sung line is, “Somewhere up in heaven there’s an angel with big ears!” Here, Robert Merrick actually has a little elephant trunk, and there is a dance number with a dozen men in brown suits and elephant heads, tapping their toes and waving their trunks. Hilarious! I loved this movie.