This hilariously sexy, all-star comedy promises to be an entertaining treat you’re sure to love! Featuring some of today’s biggest comedy favorites- including Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show), John Ritter (Bad Santa), Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules), and Christopher Reeve (Superman)!
Noises Off! is an outrageously funny look at the love, lies and deceit that take place behind the scenes as a group of ridiculously inept stage actors rehearse a Broadway Bound Play! Just when members of this chaotic cast finally get their performances right – Everything else starts going wrong!
Noises Off 8.0
‘Noises Off’ is a wacky satire of the world of the theatre; it takes a play and shows us three different interpretations of it, as the production devolves over the course of its run.
While this may seem somewhat repetitive or even redundant, there is enough diversity to keep the film afloat for approximately 90 mins: the first part shows the cast rehearsing the play before opening night, the second provides a glimpse at the madness unfolding behind the scenes, and the third focuses on the play in the wake of weeks of cast infighting.
Originally performed on stage in London and brought to the screen by none other than Peter Bogdonavich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon), ‘Noises Off’ features a vast array of comedians, including Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty, Marilu Henner, Mark Linn-Baker, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter and Nicolette Sheridan. While none of them were A-listers at the time, they are all remarkably capable and perfectly cast in their roles. More about this later.
What I consider delightful about this film is watching the cast work its magic with material that is highly dependant on the exact delivery of the dialogue and the perfect timing of the physical humour. Not only do they have to hit all the right notes, they have to make each bad note ring just right as well: they essentially have to be skilled at being inadequate. It’s such a hard line to walk and very few performers can manage it (Peter Sellers was great at it, but few others come to mind).
Well, this cast can. As a collective, with Michael Caine essentially playing the straight man, they manage to create the comedic equivalent of a storm slowly brewing into a controlled tornado that is unleashed into the world. It’s actually kind of brilliant to watch them at work, cooperating, coordinating each movement and line like an elaborate dance.
Having said this, I should note that each actor has been used for his or her strengths. One might say that they were somewhat typecasted in this film: Carol Burnett plays wacky, John Ritter plays corny, Julie Hagerty plays spinny, Christoper Reeve plays nebbish, Nicolette Sheridan plays dumb blonde, Marilu Henner plays sexy and sweet, …etc. It’s all roles we’ve seen them in before, but it works so beautifully here that it’s difficult to hold it against them.
But it did stay with me a little bit and that’s why the film ends up with an 8 instead of an 8.5. The material is great, the results are side-splittingly funny, but somehow it feels like it was all too easy and it would have been nice to see everyone stretch a little bit more.
Still, the casting director should be commended for an exceptional job – for seeking out the exact lumber needed to build such an exceptional ensemble cast. And I have no shame in saying that ‘Noises Off’ will no doubt become one of my favourite comedies over repeat viewings.