It’s always sad when you’re so close to being a good film, but then crash and burn towards the second half. Young Frankenstein had a promising start, but as with many comedy films, it simply couldn’t think of enough good material and had to resort to iffy moments in the end. It does succeed as a parody and will get you a good amount of laughs so comedy fans may enjoy this film anyway. At any rate, it certainly does destroy the normal Frankenstein films, but that’s not much of a feat.
Frankenstein is a professor who is given a tough time because people always question him about the original Frankenstein. Frankenstein has even gone as far as to switch the pronounciation of his name to Frankensteen and always denounces the possibility of creating a monster. He even stabs himself accidentally when trying to get the point across. Unfortunately, he cannot escape his destiny. He gets ownership of the castle and once he gets there…strange things start to happen. An assistant by the name of Igor arrives with the house and a lady named Inga. Frankenstein doesn’t want to create a monster, but his genes start to take control of him and force him to go along with it. He begins to revel in his new role as a crazed scientist, but this isn’t what he wanted….right?
The film was definitely fun at first. The whole scene with him in the classroom was brilliant. He kept the students in line and while they really made it tough on him, Frankenstein never cracked. He even took the stab pretty well considering that it looked rather painful. You’ll feel bad for his volunteer though since that guy wasn’t prepared for the insanity that would ensue. The first parts of the castle were also fun as Frankenstein very sarcastically takes in the strange surroundings. He’s very skeptcal and isn’t afraid to mention it. At first he reacts to all the crazy stuff like Igor’s broken hand constantly switching sides, but gets used to it at the end. He adapts and adapts until he goes full crazy and tries to reenact the experiment.
The film really does recover just about everything that was in the first film. Naturally, some parts are greatly improved like the little girl scene. Instead of being drowned, she is simply thrown through a window back into her bed. It’s the kind of change that could have really helped the old Frankenstein films. We even get the blind guy burning the monster again. There are a lot of good homages and the film is at its best when it’s making fun of the old films and having Frankenstein panic at everything. Unfortunately, things go downhill when we get away from this.
The biggest offender is really the fact that the film constantly brings up the fact that Frankenstein’s upgrades also affected him in more personal ways. You’ll see a lot of jokes about that, but one joke goes a little too far as he chases one of the heroines. She trips and is unable to escape him. She does end up falling in love with him after the experience, but the fact remains that she didn’t really have a choice the first time. It’s meant as a joke, but one that was in rather poor taste. Aside from that, the “romance” between the main two characters is just as bad. During the whole film, Inga is constantly flirting with Frankenstein and purposely taking his comments the wrong way. She finally breaks his will by the end and then we get more sad plot twists. It’s a cruel end for Frankenstein as well since he basically loses his mind. The romance parts are definitely the weakest bits for the film and the scenes just aren’t funny.
It goes without saying that I’m not a fan of the Monster. He really only cares about running around and destroying things and finding a partner. That doesn’t make for a great villain or for a misunderstood guy. Inga is not any better as romance is the only thing on her mind. She’s portrayed as being incredibly unintelligent. It’s part of the parody aspect of course, but it doesn’t work too well at all.
With Frankenstein also falling off the deep end, the only good character here is Igor. You have to wonder whether he is as out of the loop as he suggests. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the actual mastermind behind the scenes. He gave Frankenstein the wrong brain because he “accidentally” broke the real one and then he would move large distances in impossibly quick times. The film hinted that he may have had a twin in the castle as well since it would be the only logical explanation at times. If that is the case, it only goes to reinforce the idea that he is a lot smarter and craftier than he seems. The pieces simply start to add up once you begin connecting the dots. Igor was definitely fun to have around.
Overall, Young Frankenstein wasn’t a good film. It’s a shame because as I mentioned earlier, the first half was fairly great. The humor was well done and Frankenstein’s reactions to everything were real highlights. Other scenes like getting stuck in the revolving door were also handled well although making sure that Igna also got stuck felt rather mean spirited of Frankenstein. Unfortunately, the film started to get a little too obsessed with romance by the end and getting the monster in on the action was really not a good move at all. Frankenstein’s descent into madness made absolutely no sense, but I suppose that was part of the point. I preferred him as a skeptic though since he kept on calling everyone out and just being a lot of fun. The actor certainly did a really good job for what it’s worth. The film just let him down this time. If you want a funnier parody, check out the horror/comedy I reviewed a while back where Sherlock Holmes and a lot of other famous detectives must team up to solve a murder mystery before they are all bumped off.