"A big, loud waste of time for a superb cast and great director"
This odd curiosity piece directed by Spielberg tries to do too many things at once and ultimately winds up being a colossal big-budget mess.1941 tells a fictional account of America's reaction when it is discovered that a Japanese submarine is on it's way to Los Angeles, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
After a hilarious send-up of Jaws and some genuinely funny introductions to the numerous characters in the film, 1941 simply runs out of steam.
One can almost excuse Spielberg for this gargantuan waste of celluloid because of the sheer enormity of the project he tried to undertake.
Told in a style similar to the Airplane/Naked Gun movies, 1941 throws in so much at such a frantic pace that it appears inevitable that eventually it will burst at the seams. This baby bursts like a ripe cantaloupe dropped from The Sears Tower.
Part of the problem is the undercurrent of racism that is fused into almost every element of this film. At first the racial stereotypes being lampooned are funny. After a while they are a nuisance and seem forced. At least Spielberg takes a broad approach and slips in some subversive jabs that are not immediately obvious. There is nothing extremely offensive about this humor but it comes off as just plain sad instead of funny.
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi are among the huge cast in this movie but they probably have about 20 minutes of screen time combined. When they are on the screen they are funny as hell but it is Tim Matheson who steals the show.
He plays a perpetually horny general's aide who goes to great lengths to lay this chick who has a serious thing for airplanes. One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when he shows her his "cockpit".
The budget of 1941 was huge and it shows. There are several scenes that are damn impressive but it collapses under it's own weight.
I recommend checking this flick out just to see what it looks like when a great director lays a massive egg.
This review is on the DVD version that features 26 minutes of restored footage. The added footage does make the plot a bit more coherent, but it fails to save it from sucking almost as bad as it did before.Have you ever wondered why Spielberg doesn't do comedies? Watch 1941 and it will be painfully clear...