The first screwball comedy to be a box office blockbuster since the early forties, WHAT'S UP, DOC? fills it's 94 minute runtime with so many terrific one-liners, double innuendoes, and visual puns that the average viewer will probably have to watch the film a couple of times before he or she catches all of the jokes! Apparently the film inspired repeat viewing even during it's initial release - Doc was the third-highest grossing film of 1972 (right behind THE GODFATHER and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE). In all honesty, I think this film has a higher laugh-per-second ratio than any film before or since.
This film was the perfect (and surprising) way for director Peter Bogdanovich to follow-up his cinematic landmark THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, and he keeps the film's momentum running right at the perfect speed. He also knows how to cast a film flawlessly. Buck Henry's marvelous screenplay contains many scenes with overlapping dialogue and double reverses, and the entire cast never misses a beat. Barbra Streisand literally radiates with magnetism throughout the entire film! Anyone who still wonders why she was the highest grossing actress of the seventies definitely needs to see this film; Streisand's performance in DOC is what being a movie star is all about. Many critics complained that Ryan O'Neal was miscast when the film was originally released, and those critics obviously missed out on the joke. The fact that O'Neal was considered a heartthrob at the time was all part of the fun in seeing him cast as complete goof; and I don't think anyone can deny the fact that he throws himself into the role completely.
As most viewers already know, Madeline Kahn has her finest screen role in Doc, and steals nearly every scene she's in (and she wisely knows just how far to push the characterization without going over the edge). The rest DOC'S supporting cast also could not be improved upon, Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendlrton, and Liam Dunn give just three of the standout performances in this perfect supporting ensemble. As with most comedies, DOC was snubbed at the Academy Awards (Bogdanovich, Streisand, and Kahn all deserved nominations in the respective categories in my opinion), but time has been good to DOC and remains far more popular than many of the films that did get Oscar noms in 1972. Arguably, the best comedy of all time.
About the DVD: The picture quality is very good - a tad soft at times, but very natural and true to the film's original look. The sound is mono, but it's well-rendered. It's great to have the trailer and vintage featurette preserved on disc, and while Streisand's brief commentary isn't very illumenating, Bogdanovich's full-length track is very informative and entertaining.