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Comedy Movies - A Fine Mess - Ted Danson and Howie Mandell


Ted Danson, Howie Mandel, Richard Mulligan,
Stuart Margolin, Maria Conchita Alonso
Written and directed by Blake Edwards
Columbia Pictures 1986
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2005
90 minutes

A Fine Mess it is. This comedy is billed as in the spirit of Laurel and Hardy but the only thing this movie has in common with a Laurel and Hardy movie is both are available on DVD.

A Fine Mess is not that bad but not particularly interesting or funny either. Blake Edwards strikes out with this not funny movie.

The problem with A Fine Mess is that it is messy. The premise is that unsuccessful actor and successful ladies man Spence (Ted Danson who was staring in Cheers! at the time) learns of a fixed race and gets his buddy Dennis (Howie Mandel of then St. Elsewhere fame) involved. Two crooks, played by Stuart Margolin (of The Rockford Files) and Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest) chase after Spence and Dennis and steal the movie away from Danson and Mandel.

Add to this a player piano which is supposedly a tie-in with a Laurel and Hardy short titled The Music Box, Spence's dalliance with a mobster's wife (Maria Conchita Alonso), a love interest for Mandel, a series of char chases and stolen cars, an appearance by Denis Franz and stand-up comic Rick Ducommun as the manager of a 50's style burger joint complete with roller-skating waitresses, a couple of other things including the old "hide under the bed" bit at the mobster's home, and you get this comedy of sorts.

The real reason you reluctantly keep watching A Fine Mess is the comedic duo of Margolin and Mulligan. Margolin (Binky) and Mulligan (Turnip) come closer to the slapstick antics of Laurel and Hardy than Mandel and Danson ever do.

Mulligan must have figured out what Edwards had in mind because his performance is right out of the Stan Laurel acting school, not that it saves the movie but definitely makes it funnier than it really is.

To be fair, the final 15 minutes or so of A Fine Mess, starting with the shootout at the mob boss' home are funny.

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