Tuesday, 27 January 2009

2008 Film Reviews # 3: High Anxiety

High Anxiety (Mel Brooks, 1977)

I appreciate that this film is, objectively, worth more than a four. What's difficult to express is just how much I was looking forward to seeing this: it was billed to me as a parody of Hitchcock and Freud, which sounded like a shoo-in as one of the greatest comic ideas of the twentieth century. Why it doesn't work (for me) I can't quite put my finger on, except by stating that Brooks's pandemonium-filled approach seems gauche compared to Hitchcock's subtle teasing out of the humour that inheres (especially according to Freud) in the impasses of human sexuality described by psychoanalysis. This psychodramatic comedy is already in North by Northwest, The Man who Knew too Much, and even Psycho, each of which incorporates a greater degree of comic content than Brooks seems willing to acknowledge. If a parody of Hitchcock doesn't account for the extent to which all Hitchcock films defend themselves in advance with huge measures of self- referentiality and parody, then it is more or less doomed from the off. Four out of ten.

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