Horse Feathers

Reviewed By MP Bartley
Posted 02/11/05 00:27:07

"Horsin' Around."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

There are four reviews for 'Black Knight' on this website. There are seven for 'The Waterboy'. There are five for 'Catwoman'. And yet (until now) there's not one for 'Horse Feathers'. Shame on us, because fifty years from now when Martin Lawrence and the Olsen twins are forgotten arsewipes in the history of comedy, people will still be celebrating the Marx brothers. That's how great they truly are.

Groucho is Professor Wagstaff, the newly appointed head of Huxley university. Huxley is down on its uppers however and the only way to restore pride is to win the next football game against their local rivals, Darwin, who have hired Harpo and Chico to spy on Wagstaff and steal the tactics for the big game. This being Harpo and Chico however, they defect to Wagstaff's side and try to help Huxley win the match instead.

Is the fourth Marx brother in this one? Why yes he is, but he's so dull here he's reduced to the bland love interest and (rather freakily) playing Wagstaff's son. You've got to feel sorry for Zeppo sometimes. Imagine being the fourth untalented son, having to live with the shadow of those three brothers. I imagine it's quite a lot like being the third Olsen child.

Is this one of the Marx brothers' best outings? Not really, it barely makes it past the hour mark suggesting that there probably wasn't enough material to extend it any further. But saying that, for the most part it's brilliantly, achingly funny. You have the rightly revered climax of the football match - and just think how many films have 'the football match' as their big comic climax now - Harpo's running battle with a policeman, Chico destroying a lecturer's class, and of course, Groucho.

Has America produced a funnier man than Groucho Marx? I would say probably not. His bendy use of his body is much imitated but never bettered, and no-one can top him for the sheer pace of jokes. And his delivery is as awesome as ever. When he tells a woman to stop sweet talking him or he'll punch her teeth down her throat, you'll be too busy laughing to realise just how dark that joke really is. But most of the time, he's bursting with comic energy and bouncing around the screen with so much manic glee that you can't help but be mesmerised by him.

There are numerous classic lines throughout (the Swordfish scene), most of which you probably know already, but you never knew came from here. And best of all, the musical numbers are terrific when they're usually the low point in a Marx brothers film.

"You know you've got the brain of a four-year old child, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it."

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