ZAZ: Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

ZAZ: Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

In the tradition of England's Monty Python, a number of films from the '70s ape a sort of endless montage feel. The previously discussed Groove Tube may have come earlier than other American takes on films made up of various and unrelated sketches, but The Kentucky Fried Movie may have been the most successful. And while Monty Python was in the throngs of stardom and breaking up, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker were composing an endless slew of skits, spoofs and crack ups, probably not fit for most of the viewing audience in 1977. The film wouldn't be the trio's greatness success - fiscally or artistically - but it has certainly maintained an enormous cult around it.

Whereas Monty Python sought to connect it's skits with some over arching theme or reoccurring phrase or action during it's television shows, the Americans who adroitly co-opted the approach weren't as deftly inclined at unifying their work. The Kentucky Fried Movie is comprised of no less than twenty disparate parts and lacks any sort of cohesive push to keep an audience tuned in. That's not to say that the film isn't entertaining, but breaking the feature up into a few different sittings is probably the best way in which to take all of this in.

There are various nods to network news - much like in Groove Tube - although, the sort of television come big screen approach to film is nixed about forty minutes into the feature, only to return after the film's foray into an action flick. At this point the film is given over to a Bruce Lee spoof that is basically a recasting of one of his films featuring a lisping kung fu hero. Sexual jokes abound as Evan C. Kim attempts to extricate the female lead from the villainous compound owner Bong Soo Han. All ends well, but directly after this section, viewers are again dumped into a disconnected mush of skits.

There are ample viewings of flesh and enough poop and fart jokes to sate even an eleven year old - again, though, that doesn't make the movie a waste, just aimed at a specific demographic. Apparently, the lion's share of the skits were composed by the two Zuckers and Abrahams while attending college as each was a member of an improv comedy group called Kentucky Fried Theater. The affect of the skits on stage would probably have been completely different - and in some cases completely impossible - but again, the film is and was intended for late night, intoxicated viewings. This is art of the lowest rung, but art none the less.

The tandem of Zucker and Abrahams would return in a few short years latter for Airplane! as well as the televised Police Squad, which would turn into another Leslie Nielsen vehicle. Nielsen, though, who had begun as a series actor, appearing in sci-fi features as well as a good deal of darker fare, was made gold by these comedic acting roles. He might not be today remember as the greatest actor whose graced the screen, but well be sure to hear more about the sleuth soon enough.