Monday, January 18, 2010

Funny Girl

Year 2, Day 16 - 1/16/10 - Movie #381

BEFORE: Back-to-back Streisand - I suppose I could do a whole week of Barbra, but I'd rather not. I've got some other films about being famous comedians that I'd like to get to.

THE PLOT: The life of comedienne Fannie Brice, from her early days in the Jewish slums of the Lower East Side, to the height of her career with the Ziegfeld Follies.

AFTER: Ugh...this was really difficult for me to stomach. Over 2 1/2 hours of self-indulgent Streisand. Like with "A Star Is Born", all I really knew about this film was what I read in the Mad magazine parody back in the 1970's. For some reason, I thought this was about a comedienne, like a stand-up comedian. Turns out Fannie Brice was a "comedic" singer and dancer with the Zeigfeld Follies, which meant she was the girl in the chorus who couldn't dance as well as the others, and wasn't as easy on the eyes, so she got yuks from the audience with some Yiddish-accented asides.

This really isn't a movie meant for anyone with a Y-chromosome, as Brice spends half of the movie pining after gambling man Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), and after marrying him, spends the second half of the movie wondering when the marriage is going to fall apart.

There is a distinct similarity to "A Star Is Born", with the wife's career ascending as the husband's is floundering - but if you're playing a showgirl in the 1920's, there's only so much feminism you can inject into that role. You can't have it both ways, portraying Brice as both a starry-eyed romantic AND a fierce, independent trend-setter.

The movie was much too long, over 2 1/2 hours, and I found the songs to be truly horrible, with rhymes that were either too simple or way too unlikely. This was bad enough to make me re-think the idea that my wife's movies count as part of the collection, for purposes of my list. Maybe there's a Streisand exemption...

RATING: 3 out of 10 roller skates

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