Well, after one month and one day of no movie reviews, I am happy to say that movies have returned to a blog where movies were originally the only thing I even reviewed. After reviewing Lawrence of Arabia on August 17th, a combination of school and my new job have conspired to keep me from reaching the same levels of blogging productivity that I was reaching during the summer (for obvious reasons). I actually watched a movie in my Film Studies class about a week ago but for stupid reasons, I chose not to review it (but I’m going to write that review as soon as I finish this one). Anyways, I’m tired of having paid for an entire month’s worth of Netflix without actually using the things they sent me so I’m back to watching movies. Last night, I was home in Philippi for the evening with my family and I watched a film considered to be a classic of 1960’s comedy, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians are Coming which I found to be a rather trite and forced political satire that only elicited the slightest of chuckles throughout the entire production.
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming is a political comedy from Norman Jewison, the same creative mind behind the far superior In the Heat of the Night. In the film, a Russian submarine led by a captain (whose name I never caught) played by an extremely young Alan Arkin (Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine) is grounded off the coast of a small New England island. The Russians are very concerned about getting back in the ocean undetected because they know that their presence on American soil could potentially spark World War III. They attempt to contact in cognito (although their disguise is paper thin) a household in a remote part of the island led by patriach Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner) in order to procure a boat to pull the submarine off the sandbar. Before long, their plans to disguise themselves fall completely apart and one blunder after another has the entire island believing that there is a full-fledged Russian invasion of the island far removed from the reality of a couple stranded sailors.
The film is basically the anti-Dr. Strangelove. Where Dr. Strangelove was Stanley Kubrick’s darkly comic and satirical look at the Red Scare and mutually assured destruction where neither side came out looking good, The Russians Are Coming is what happens when you try to make a feel-good, everybody gets a happy ending satire out of material that begs for darker interpretation. While I’m sure the overall message of the film which is that Russians are just as much human and fallible as us Americans was radical and revolutionary when the film was first released during the height of the Cold War, it just falls completely flat today. This just goes to prove my opinion that films with political messages often age incredibly poorly for future audiences. That’s the inherent danger of making a “topical” film. Your outlook might end up seemingly naively antiquated in 50 years. Also, the film just wasn’t very funny. Certain moments had me chuckling (especially when Alan Arkin tried to pretend to be American) but mostly the laughs were few and far between.
I wish I had chosen a better film to restart the movie review process for this blog, but unfortunately, I got The Russians Are Coming. The film isn’t totally without value, but it’s so far removed from the age and era of its creation that it has aged beyond repair to the world of campy cheesiness. If you liked Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine, it would be worth checking him out in this role in which he was nominated for an Oscar, but don’t expect it be nearly as funny as that all-time classic. I watched this with my father and neither of us enjoyed it very much so I’m not sure that I can honestly recommend it to anyone. Here’s a Best Picture nominee that I can easily tell you to steer clear from.
Final Score: C