MOVIE REVIEW: “Never a Dull Moment” stars Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins Returns, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Edward G. Robinson (Double Indemnity, Key Largo), Dorothy Provine (It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, The Great Race), Henry Silva (The Manchurian Candidate, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai), Joanna Moore (Touch of Evil, Countdown), Tony Bill (Shampoo, Must Love Dogs), Slim Pickens (Blazing Saddles, The Getaway), Jack Elam (Once Upon a Time in the West, The Cannonball Run), Ned Glass (West Side Story , Charade), Richard Bakalyan (Chinatown, The Fox and the Hound), and Philip Coolidge (North by Northwest, Inherit the Wind). It is directed by Jerry Paris (Happy Days [TV series], The Odd Couple [1970 TV series]), with the screenplay being written by AJ Carothers (The Secret of My Success, Emil and the Detectives).
When a small-time, self-absorbed actor (Dyke) is mistaken for a contracted killer by a formidabble gang, he must play out the part and find an escape.
How dare this Disney flick from the 60’s claim it will never have a dull moment within its runtime. Let me be the judge of that…
Dick Van Dyke provides top-notch physical comedy in this humorous mistaken-identity adventure, where each scene serves as a lead-in for the legend to jump, stumble, and fall to leave audiences rolling. It’s an all-around light, entertaining feature fit with what you would expect; if you know Van Dyke, that is. I for one have not seen much of the man’s work (last I saw him, he was doing a jig on top of a table in his 90’s in “Mary Poppins Returns”), though I knew before watching this that I would enjoy it. Not only because it was a recommendation from someone I trust, but because I know of ole Van Dyke’s talent.
The Disney live-action comedies of old are fans of good, clean, family entertainment. However, this one had a slight edge to it. The mobsters can be quite formidabble (the head honcho played by Edward G. Robinson is greatly casted) and there were certainly some moments that dipped into more adult humor. It was only by the third act that the narrative went for the radically silly, as Van Dyke’s final push to escape the mob could make your eyes roll (especially the scene where he swings on a piece of artwork to get away from gangsters trying to grab his legs).
For the most part, I had fun. The performances in this sold the story/jokes well and there were quite a few moments that had me laughing (or at least, snorting). Because the set-up is outrageous, there are some sequences that make you have to leave your logic at the door in order to appreciate, but the execution of everything is consistent. And a consistent tone is the most crucial thing you can ask for when dealing with comedy. Jerry Paris and his team did a solid job putting this one together, and the aesthetic of the late 1960s brings an added layer of fun/charm to the piece.
Did it have a dull moment? Perhaps. But if you enjoy Dick Van Dyke – or physical comedy in general – you’ll have a good time with this one. The final act/conclusion can make you roll your eyes, but at the end of the day it’s an entertaining feature with a witty concept that works for the whole family. FINAL SCORE: 78%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: