From the director of Animal House and the creators of Airplane and The Naked Gun, comes the original madcap, most out-of control spoof of all time. The one that started it all! The Kentucky Fried Movie!
Featuring a cast of more than a few but less than a lot, this insane collection of comedy skits includes such now famous sketches as the Kung-Fu parody, “A Fistful Of Yen”, and the legendary “Catholic School Girls In Trouble.” Enjoy the future of moviegoing with the “Feel-A-Round” theater experience. See notable and highly respected actor Donald Sutherland as the clumsiest waiter in motion picture history. Watch such character as Cleopatra Schwartz and Big Jim Slade tickle your funny bone until it has to be removed surgically!
Directed by John Landis and written by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker , and Jerry Zucker, and featuring appearances by ex-James Bond, George Lazenby and The Incredible Hulk star Bill Bixby, The Kentucky Fried Movie is the cult classic you’ve been waiting for! It’s a virtual guarantee (not an actual guarantee) that you will not find another film with as many side-splitting moments of pure unadulterated hilarity as The Kentucky Fried Movie.
“Brutal! Savage! Beyond Perversion!”
Yes, it’s called ‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’. And what does it mean? Does it have anything to do with the ubiquitous KFC, much like ‘The Onion Movie’ has everything to do with satirical magazine The Onion? Or is it just another weird title long-lost in the annals of time, one of many cheapies that we see in dust bins of corner stores and pawn shops – where no one dares to look but out of desperation, with mere pennies to devote to their entertainment budget?
‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ has nothing to do with battered poultry nor is it lost to movie history. In fact, if anything, it’s a turning point in silver screen comedy; without it, we wouldn’t have all the spoof films that litter the cinematic landscape (for good or bad ). And, if not for ‘KFM’, we would likely never have heard of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, the mad geniuses behind the ‘Airplane!’, ‘Hot Shots’ and ‘The Naked Gun’ franchises.
Now, some people might argue that it’s no great loss, but I am a HUGE fan of their early work (their later work, post-2000 is rather scatter-shot ). I adore how they would fill the screen with a bevy of jokes, not just in the scripted lines, but also in the physical comedy and in the sight gags and other incidental humour. It was basically a smorgasbord of silliness and irreverence for a whole 90 minutes – there was no time to be bored.
Newscaster: “Moscow in flames, missiles headed toward New York. Film at eleven.”
In the ’70s, Abraham, Zucker and Zucker started an improvisational troupe called Kentucky Fried Theater. It consisted of skits of all kinds, and was successful enough, but the format had limited exposure and the trio was interested in bringing these bits to the masses at large. Thus they came up with the idea of making ‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’. After a couple of false starts, they were able to land John Landis as director, and ‘KFM’ became a launching pad of sorts for all of them.
I had heard of the film a few times over the years, but had quickly dismissed it based on its title alone. It’s only when I discovered that it was related to my cherished ‘Airplane!’ and ‘Police Squad/Naked Gun’ that my eyes opened up and I sought it out. It wasn’t easily found but I dug one up in a second hand shop. And even then I was stuck with a damaged copy, so it took a while before I could get around to seeing it.
Newscaster: “I’m not wearing any pants. Film at eleven.”
I say that the film is uneven for a few reasons. For starters, the humour fluctuates in quality throughout. Whereas it may be very sharp satire on the one hand, it can then indulge in a lot of corny, silly and sophomoric humour. There’s a fair amount of sex-related humour that must have been considered raunchy at the time, but there are also some relatively inspired moments, including satirical TV ads and a plethora of programming. It’s clearly the precursor to ‘Amazon Women on the Moon’.
The centrepiece of the film is a spoof of ‘Enter the Dragon’, called ‘A Fistful of Yen’, and it features Evan C. Kim (who I remember best as “Dirty” Harry’s partner in ‘The Dead Pool’) in the lead. It’s quite lengthy in comparison with the others (the next longest being approximately 6 minutes in length), but it’s nonetheless quite enjoyable. The only true downside is that you have to have seen the original to enjoy most of the references.
Another reason why I find ‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ uneven, is because of the budget on which it was made (and, in all likelihood, the technical know-how of the people involved, being wet behind the ears as they were). Due to a limited access to funds, the film depended on stock footage a great deal – and not all of it was of prime quality. Thus, much of the material doesn’t mesh with the film’s other footage, varying wildly from somewhat decent to somewhere north of awful.
Newscaster: “Rams plagued by fumbles as earthquakes rock Los Angeles. Film at eleven.”
As one can imagine, the acting also varies in quality; overall, it’s pretty amateurish. Having said that, it’s also consistent for the genre, budget and era – there’s certainly worse, but it wouldn’t win any awards, that’s for sure. Still, they did manage to capture a few name actors for small cameos, such as Bill Bixby, George Lazenby and Donald Sutherland, and this gives the film enough credibility to defy any other impression one might have of the cast.
To me, this is further proof that, despite being a low-budget, low-brow comedy, ‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ has more going for it than it may appear at first glance. If they were able to pull the Incredible Hulk, James Bond and Jesus into their film, budding filmmakers Abraham/Zucker/Zucker and Landis surely must have sparked some interest and tickled a few funny bones with their script and original ideas along the way.
Which leads me to conclude that I’m not alone in thinking that it’s a flawed gem, but a gem nonetheless. ‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ is hardly perfection, but it has a lot of fun moments along the way. And, with the notable exception of ‘A Fistful of Yen’, even if one doesn’t like a segment, they’re all extremely brief and the pain subsides quickly, dulled by the laughter that is served up with a full portion of KFM. It can be cheesy and nutty, but it has a vigour and earnestness that make it infectious.
In an industry that creates soulless product for mass consumption, sometimes it’s refreshing to see a motion picture that was made on gusto alone. And if it can also make you chuckle along the way, all the better.
Newscaster: “The popcorn you are eating has been pissed in. Film at eleven.”