So obscure that most people weren't even aware of its existence at the time, Another Nice Mess is for people who ever wondered what President Nixon and Vice-President Spiro Agnew would have been like if they talked and behaved Laurel & Hardy. Are you on the bandwagon?
Character actor Herb Voland is Agnew/Laurel, while legendary impressionist Rich Little is Nixon/Hardy. It's an interesting idea; Voland and Little impersonate the comedians quite well, perhaps better than anyone else ever has.
|If you loved Way Out West, you may tolerate|
Another Nice Mess. But it's unlikely.
Unfortunately, they haven't been giving a script or a budget worth their talent. Writer/director Bob Einstein is certainly familiar with Laurel & Hardy -- their classic dance from Way Out West, for instance, is replicated here. But Laurel & Hardy made everything appear effortless. Voland & Little, having not worked together before nor being physical comedians, look like they're, well, trying their best.
|I don't remember what's supposed to be|
happening here, but it doesn't matter.
Further muddying things, Einstein adds sound effects and trick camera work more appropriate for The Three Stooges, as if realizing his target audience -- stoners, Nixon haters, and stoner Nixon haters -- wouldn't have the patience to sit through a deliberately-paced Laurel & Hardyesque movie.Never play to the stoners.
|No performer given, and for good reason.|
Too, one misses the infectious music that LeRoy Shields and Marvin Hatley composed for the Hal Roach pictures. While L&H's "Ku-Ku" theme appears from time to time in Another Nice Mess, a pop song titled "I Am the President" is performed ad nauseum by someone trying to sound like Arlo Guthrie.
|Old Hitler wishes he died back at the bunker, as does|
Oh, by the way, there's a plot, of sorts. An elderly Adolf Hitler is living secretly in the White House, trying to take over the presidency with the help of a sexy intern. That's comedy, folks.
Einstein tries to jazz things up (or pad things out) with clips of the real Laurel & Hardy "watching" the events onscreen; there's also genuine news footage of Nixon campaigning. Taking it one meta-step further, Rich Little occasionally appears as the "real" Pres. Nixon commenting on Another Nice Mess in the White House screening room. His vocal and physical resemblance are eerily spot-on; Einstein should have written a one-man stage show for Little as Nixon, and saved Tommy Smothers some money.
|Nixon's shave is interrupted by a |
plumber's snake from Agnew's
bathroom. Just as funny as it sounds.
As bad as it is, Another Nice Mess could have been a lot worse. Entire scenes seem to have been left on the cutting room floor, accounting for its incredibly short 65-minute running time. What remains -- like "zany" running gags featuring Secret Service agents disguised as houseplants -- has been edited with the skill of a logger with a bad case of the shakes. So much for getting even with Tricky Dickie.
|Steve Martin, far right, watches his movie|
career almost end before it begins.
Bob Einstein was one of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour's writers/supporting players, as was Steve Martin, who makes his movie debut here as a hippie inadvertently launching a brick-throwing fight with Nixon, Agnew and a bunch of innocent bystanders. I don't recall seeing this clip during the American Film Institute's tribute to Steve a while back.
|Steve Martin and Bob Einstein pretend they|
had nothing to do with Another Nice Mess.
Dick & Spiro as Stan & Ollie could have worked as a recurring seven-minute sketch on the Smothers Brothers show. But as a movie, Another Nice Mess hangs together like a fallen clothesline. Tommy Smothers himself admitted it was "terrible", allowing it to fall into public domain; prints are as faded as a forgotten 1940s Cinecolor b-movie.
Just for fun, if you ever run into Steve Martin, tell him your favorite movie isAnother Nice Mess. His reaction will probably be more entertaining than anything in the movie.