Most helpful critical review
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Hit and miss
on July 27, 2005
Of the two features, 'Go West' is the stronger one, and though it doesn't have the greatest reputation and isn't as good or solid as their earlier work, it is pretty good considering. The opening scene is a classic, as is the final third or so of the film, the efforts first to stop the train they're all on and then to refuel it, in the process destroying much of the train. There's a lot of filler in between (particularly the musical numbers), though there are still some good moments. The worst part for me is the scene at the Native American camp; thankfully we've come a long way from using racial stereotypes fueled by misinformation about other cultures for laughs. The requisite pseudo-Zeppo, John Carroll as Terry, actually isn't that bad; for once the romantic/musical subplot doesn't take over too much of the main story. Although as many people have pointed out, one flaw of the movie is that we never are really told how Groucho manages to buy his ticket west after he's been fleeced out of most of his money in the opening scene, or what any of them are doing out west to begin with!
'The Big Store' isn't as horrible as many people make it out to be, but it's no 5-star movie or potential Oscar-winner either. Again, there are some great moments in it, like the scene in Flywheel's "detective office" and the piano duet, but there's far too much filler in it. None of the musical numbers have any relevance to the storyline and can easily be skipped past without missing anything important, and each song is worse than the last, culminating in the horrible "Tenement Symphony." It's the kind of song that makes you wish you could wash your brain out after having heard because it's so horrible. From what I've read, Tony Martin, who plays Tommy Rogers, is a nice fellow in real life, and it's truly amazing he's been married to the same woman for over 50 years, but in this film he just comes across as dull, annoying, and lifeless, the worst pseudo-Zeppo they ever worked with. It makes one feel sad he felt so overshadowed by his much-older brothers he decided to leave the act; he belonged in these later movies more than all of those replacements did. That character should have stayed knocked out for the entire film so he wouldn't have kept popping up to sing yet another dull annoying song just when things were going pretty good. There are great moments, good moments, boring moments, and downright horrible moments in this film; it's like the Marxes just seem out of place in this, with way too much of a plot, not a lot of fresh interesting inspired lines, how they were getting too old to do some of the more physical stuff (such as how doubles were used in the chase at the end, which is humorous but just not their comedy style), and how they come across as more like guest stars in their own movie.
The bonus features are alright; some of the shorts are enjoyable and others aren't anything I would want to watch again (although 'Flicker Memories' is quite funny). The only bonus features related to the films are the trailers, Tony Martin singing the unused song "Where There's Music" to a backdrop of images from the film, and the quite entertaining radio promo for 'Go West.' All in all, a good film, an okay film that could have had the potential to be more than just average, and some hit and miss extras.