72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2003
It's a smart-zany-girl-meets-absent-minded-professor-and-hijinks-ensue movie modeled on the screwball comedies of the 30's. This is a funny movie for the whole family. And it's now on a great DVD with commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich (the whole movie) and Barbra Streisand (on selected pieces of the movie.) It also includes some behind the scenes footage including Peter demonstrating for Barbra how to seduce co-star Ryan O'Neal in the "Time Goes By" scene.
What? You want to know what the movie is about? Well it's about these four identical suitcases, and... oh, let's just let the main character put it in his own words:
"My name is Howard Bannister and I'm from Ames, Iowa. It all started when I bumped my head in the taxicab on my way in from the airport. I went to the drugstore for some aspirin and he tried to charge me for a radio because she said her husband would pay for it. But I didn't of course. Anyway, she ripped my jacket and then Eunice, my fiancé, came along. But she kept calling me Steve. Not my fiancé, my wife, or rather the one who isn't my wife.
"Well, anyway that night at the banquet she was there again and everyone was calling her Burnsy. That's short for Burns, Eunice's last name. But Eunice wasn't there. Burnsy was there. Or rather the one who isn't Burnsy. That night I went back to my room and she was there taking a bath. Well, Eunice walked in and the drapes caught fire and the room burned and they asked me to leave the hotel. I really don't blame them. Then today, Mr. Larabee asked me to come to his house and to bring my rocks and bring Eunice. Or, rather Burnsy, the one he thinks is Eunice. Is that clear?"
"No, but it's consistent."
That last line is from the judge, driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown and memorably played by Liam Dunn, who I learned from the DVD was a casting agent, not an actor, and this was his first film appearance.
This film is full of great lines that you will be repeating to yourself for weeks afterward:
"Now don't be nervous Howard, just remember, everything depends on this."
"You'll be safe in the bathroom. Snakes, as you know, live in mortal fear of... tile."
"Since when have you taken bubble baths?" "It came out of the faucet like that."
"So what is the point? The point is, the point is, oh God I've forgotten the point."
Doc is that rare comedy that excels both in snappy dialog and physical shtick. And it throws in just about every physical bit you can think of: pie in the face, a keystone-cops-like group of fireman, girl hiding out on the window ledge and getting knocked off but hanging on by her (well-manicured) fingernails. And a chase scene to end all chase scenes up and down through San Francisco streets.
If nothing else, the film deserves a place in movie comedy history for introducing us to Madeline Kahn. Here, fresh out of college, Pete Bogdanovich found her at an audition in New York and brought her out to California for this film. And what a talent! She gets a laugh with every line, grimace, and whine and all but steals the film right from underneath Barbra Streisand's nose. And she does it by creating a character that at first makes you groan, but you really get to feel for as movie develops. The other supporting players are all the best of Hollywood at the time and are top-notch.
Streisand returned to the screen in this film after a year off, and looks relaxed, tanned and sexy. The script doesn't ask her to do much, other than be herself and use her natural comic talents, which are considerable. She takes old vaudeville shtick (such as "has anyone ever told you that you're very sexy? They never will") and makes it sound fresh.
Ryan O'Neal has two things going for him. He looks cute in his underwear and plaid bow tie, and he has terrific chemistry with Barbra. But he comes off as wooden and empty. This is Ryan O'Neal imitating Peter Bogdanovich imitating Cary Grant. Ironically, in the off screen footage included on the DVD, Ryan is charming, sexy and funny between takes. For some reason Bogdanovich has asked him to hide is charm under a bushel to portray this dull professor. (Fortunately, Peter allowed Ryan to redeem himself the following year in "Paper Moon", arguably Ryan's best screen performance.)
Fast pacing, snappy dialog, great character actors, funny shtick - What's Up Doc has it all and is just as funny today as it was when it broke box office records in 1972.
Back Stage Note: While Barbra was taking vacation, ex-husband Elliot Gould was becoming the busiest star in Hollywood pumping out film after film in the early 70's. In 1971 he was both producing and starring in the drama "A Glimpse of Tiger". Although versions differ, Gould seemed to go out of control, threatening co-star Kim Darby and trying to fire director Anthony Harvey, and finally disappearing for days. Warner Brothers shut down production and tried to recast the picture. Ironically, the star they eventually got was Barbra Streisand who wanted to work with director Peter Bogdanovich. Peter wanted to work with Barbra, but wanted to do a comedy instead of a drama. In a matter of weeks, he and Robert Benton wrote the first draft of "What's Up Doc?". They gave it Buck Henry, who produced the second draft in another three weeks - which became the shooting script. Thus, eight weeks after shutdown, "Glimpse of Tiger" had morphed into "What's Up Doc?" and was filming in San Francisco.
79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2000
WHAT'S UP DOC? is a "Streisand" movie, but the supporting players are just as much responsible for its success. I echo the previous reviewer and dare you to take your eyes off of Madelaine Kahn as Eunice. ("Eunice? That's a person called Eunice?") She is absolutely hilarious as she counts to ten, badgers fiance Howard Banister ("as in 'up the...'"), and reads "A Woman's Guide To Sex" in bed -- a hilarious character moment.
The script by Buck Henry is full of little comic gems of lines. One of my favorites:
"Has anyone ever told you that you're very sexy?" "Well actually, no." "They never will."
Streisand is gorgeous with her long hair and tanned body. Ryan ONeal is very good as a bewildered musicologist. Streisand gets a great singing moment perched on top of a piano as she seduces ONeal with "As Time Goes By".
There are so many funny moments in this film: the chase through San Francisco, the courtroom scene at the end ("First there was this trouble between me and Hugh." ... "You and me? " .. "No, me and Hugh." ... "Stop that! Make him stop saying that! ") and of course, Streisand in the towel out the window.
This is truly a funny, madcap kind of old fashioned movie. I highly recommend it. Let's hope for a crystal clear DVD version that includes all of those hilarious Bogdonovich outtakes -- are you listening out there?
66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
WHAT'S UP, DOC? has to stand as one of the finest remakes of a great original ever made. By and large, remakes of classics are profoundly stupid. Although the remakes virtually never match the originals (and admittedly this one is no exception), most are merely pale imitations. Although this one does not come close to supplanting BRINGING UP BABY, it nonetheless manages to bring enough originality to make it utterly delightful. Ever since I first saw it, it has remained my favorite Barbra Streisand film, and is delightfully kooky in a way completely different from the way that Hepburn is kooky in the original. Ryan O'Neill is indeed a pale imitation of Cary Grant, but then, who wouldn't be? But Madeleine Kahn, on the other hand, is a remarkable addition to the storyline. This was, for all practical purposes, her film debut, and she makes the most of it.
This was director Peter Bogdanovich's second hit film in a row, following his marvelous THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. The next year he would make PAPER MOON, and for all intents and purposes he seemed to be the next great American director. But then for whatever reason his gifts seemed to desert him, and while he has occasionally reemerged with a decent film, he has never managed to reascend to the level of these three films. He has, however, managed to write a great deal of film criticism, along with one of the greatest collections of interviews with directors ever published. But in this film his direction was fine, and if the comedy towards the end sometimes seems less screwball than Keystone cops, I find it easy to forgive him.
I repeat that this is my favorite Barbra Streisand film. I know people are divided on her looks, but when I look at her in this one, I think she is remarkably beautiful, and her personality is so infectious that she manages to dominate the screen every second she is onscreen. She was so superb in this film that I wonder why she didn't try to undertake similar parts in the future. She did the follow up to FUNNY GIRL, but she never really tried anything this goofy again. It's a tremendous loss, because she obviously excelled at it.
I'm surprised at how well this film has aged in thirty years. Sometimes you go back and see a film two or three decades after you first saw it, and it can be shocking how aged it appears. I had that experience with both TOOTSIE and ROXANNE, and both now seem hopelessly outdated. But this one, despite the early seventies clothes and decor, remains truly fresh.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite leisure activities is watching movies at home, and my wife and I have seen hundreds. Yet, "What's Up, Doc?" holds a special place in our heart, and that says a great deal. Madeleine Kahn is whiningly brilliant in her debut role as Eunice The Nagging Fiancee, and even now, when my spouse reminds me of something for the umpteenth time, I will often jokingly reply, "Yes, Eunice." This film also reminds us fondly of my late grandfather, because some years ago we watched it during one of his visits, and all of us laughed until our sides hurt. Every time the secret agent with the golf clubs came on the screen -- even before he DID anything -- it would set off my mom and my grandfather into gales of laughter.
This movie succeeds on multiple levels. The characters (especially Howard, the dazed, somewhat helpless musicologist; Eunice, his bossy fiancee; Judy Maxwell, the sweet interloper who attracts mayhem and chaos like a magnet) are amusing and well-portrayed. There is both silly visual slapstick AND brilliantly-written humorous dialogue. Comedy cliches like The Car Chase, The Pane Of Glass Crossing The Street, and people dodging in and out of rooms on a hallway are shamelessly invoked and then taken to a whole new level.
And let us not forget that Streisand is a singer! When Judy meets Howard (Ryan O'Neal) later in the film, with a piano conveniently nearby, and she launches into "You must remember this", (prompting Howard to wake up and play the changes, already) her "A siiiiiiiiiiigh, is just a sigh" is enough to melt the most cynical heart. And Streisand's rendition of "You're the Top" for the opening title is positively electric.
All in all, it is an absolute crime that Speed 2 is available on DVD, and What's Up, Doc (as of now) is not. This film is terrific in whatever format you can get it, and the minute it is available on DVD, my well-worn cassette of it will be honorably retired! Highly recommended.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2005
I saw this movie when it first came out in the theater. I laughed hysterically then, and on viewing it now I still laugh. There are priceless comic bits throughout the movie - "Use your charm", Madeline Kahn's whimpers reading the sex book in bed, the taxi driver answering "Yes, Eunice", Vocal Reverberation under Spinal Pressure, etc., etc., etc.
Loosely taking Bringing up Baby as a pattern, this film inserts 4 suitcases for 2 leopards, tosses in the screwball female with the nerdy professor and comes up a winner. But while Bringing up Baby had a great comedic cast, the ensemble here actually does it one better. Madeline Kahn is a scene stealer right from the start. You do not realize how hilarious her performance is until you go back and watch the film a second or even a third or fourth time - to see where the original script would have placed the focus of the action, and then how she manages in her understated way to garner the attention.
The other cast members are priceless as well - Austin Pendleton (the stuttering attorney in My Cousin Vinny) is great as Frederick Larrabee, donor of the Larrabee prize. His reaction throughout the banquet scene to Streisand is fantastic - "She's a gem" - making Ryan O'Neal/Howard Bannister's renunciation of Madeline Kahn/Eunice Burns inevitable. Kenneth Mars is the other conniving aspirant to the Larrabee grant, John Hillerman is the hotel manager who has just had a room destroyed, and a bit of Buck Henry and Randy Quaid at the banquet. There are so many great minor performances that it is impossible to document them without presenting an endless list....
The chase scene is the final third of the movie and it is one of the biggest, most over-the-top chase scenes envisioned. Bogdonavich took all the wacky chase scenes from the silent films and compressed them into this one. You have the just-missing-the plate glass window scene, the just-missing the newly poured cement scene, and the addition of a chinese dragon, a VW, strange costumes, the SF harbor ferry, and a bicycle.
See this movie - you'll laugh, then laugh again, and again and again...
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 1999
This movie just cracks you up. The twisted plot involving Howard's rocks and stolen files and ... could not be sillier, but that is the point. Throw in a couple of romances, a crazy and rich old lady with stolen jewelry, a bevy of lunatic rock collectors, and a matronly fiancee, and you have a delectable brew for Bogdanovich to whip with relish -- and he does. The performances are uniformly superb, but c'mon, Madeline Kahn blows everyone away with her Eunice Burns, which has made me laugh unfailingly since I was 11 years old. Ryan O'Neal has never been more appealing, and Barbra Streisand, in a non-singing role, displays her considerable comic gifts with ease. The slapstick-driven plot, with its sunny San Francisco locales, never lets up, and builds to a thoroughly satisfy movie-comedy ending. This movie has a sense of sophistication and yet remains innocent fun. I have never laughed this much -- and for this long -- at -- and with -- a movie before or since.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2004
This is unquestionably one of my all time favorite films. All of the actors are in top form. Streisand turns in a masterful comedic performance which I would describe as "understated zany". O'Neil is stoic yet endearing. Madeline Kahn (in her movie debut, which makes the film noteworthy if for NO other reason) gives a perfect performance as O'Neil's overbearing fiance. The supporting cast including Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendleton and Liam Dunn are top notch. Brilliant writing (Buck Henry, et.al.) and directing (Peter Bogdanovich) combine with the cast to make this film one of the rare Hollywood productions that appeals to young and old alike. Don't miss this one, it is truly a classic.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2003
yes its true. this film introduced me to laughter. my mom and i saw this film together. i was very young, but i will never forget how hard i laughed. and laughed and laughed some more. i remember laughing for days afterward. it was as though i had not seen anything funnier in my whole life! the absurdity of it all! a bicycle inside a chinese dragon! men trying to cross the street with a giant pane of glass with cars racing by at unsafe speeds! hotel rooms on fire! gangsters chasing spys chasing nerds chasing howard (steve) banister who's still trying to figure out why he's being chased. cars trying to make it to a ferry thats already left the dock! and in the center of this catastrophe- judy maxwell! who in the end gets brought before the judge and...if you've seen the movie you know, if not you'll have to buy it and find out. but what you'll really find out is that this is maybe the greatest comedy of all time. and i dont say this lightly because ive seen hundreds of comedys. but like i said, i never knew life could be so funny till i saw this film. i remember getting my first vcr ( it was a wedding gift) and what's up doc was one of the first movies i bought. i had not seen the movie in years and years, but it was just as hillarious as i remembered. thank god for the vcr! and now dvd!one of the most amazing things about this movie is the vivdness of the comedy. it stays with you. a year later you're replaying a certain scene in your mind, or you'll recite a particularly funny line. you know, when i saw this film there were no vcr or dvd players! it was not like today where you can pre-order the movie while its still in the theatre. once you saw it, that was it! you had to wait to see it on tv like a year or two later, some times not at all. which reminds me, why in the world is this film not on dvd? why,why,why? i can not believe with all the two-disc special edition ... overflowing every week they cant find the time to release a truly special film. anyway, i enjoyed sharing this little bit of self-nostalgia, and i hope you enjoy the film.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2000
This movie was one of my favorites as a child and even now, 25+ years later, it still tickles my funny bone! When I saw it in the 70's, it was the first time for me to see Barbra and Ryan in a movie. They are hilarious and look great. They make a great "on-screen" couple! The late Madeline Kahn is a real gem here also - she is wonderful in each and every scene.
There are almost too many funny scenes to mention here. Scenes to look for are the drug store, the Laraby dinner party, the bubble bath, the fiasco in Howard's room (just listening to Madeline Kahn rant and rave to Howard during this scene cracks me up!) and who could forget Barbra singing to Ryan on top of the piano!
I also love the scene in the court room. The judge is one of my favorites! He is hilarious!
Not to be missed - a real funny movie that has never lost it's charm! This was a movie my parents and I would watch in the 70's every time it was on TV. Now I can enjoy it over and over on video. The only thing that is missing now is a DVD version! Hopefully this will be soon, and when they do, it will include all the outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage!
A wonderful movie that will make you laugh and smile, and a "G" rating to boot, something the whole familiy can enjoy - which these days, is hard to come by! ENJOY!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2004
I first saw this film over 15 years ago and have watched it many many times since. Many comedies loose some of the magic once the plot and all the good gags are revealed, but not this one. It's even funnier when you know what's about to happen. I say buy it, watch it, and make all your friends see it too, to which you must reply, "Yes Eunice!"