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Widower than what
on May 16, 2010
Going home to see your family is daunting enough, but in a Draculean castle with a werewolf, a dead transvestite, and a new will that makes you a walking target?
That's the basic plot behind "Haunted Honeymoon," an amusing and vaguely Mel Brooksian comedy movie about a man with a crumbling mind, a new fiancee, and a really abnormal family. The plot is pretty much a mess -- full of holes and dangling plot threads -- but the brilliant comic actors and hilarious scripting ("Oh, it's so COMPLICATED!") magically keep it from collapsing.
Larry Abbot (Gene Wilder) and Vickie Pearle (Gilda Radner) are actors in the hit show Manhattan Mystery Theater, and newly engaged. Unfortunately Larry's engagement has sparked off a psychological meltdown, and his uncle Dr. Paul Abbot decides there is only one way to cure him: scare him more. So he sends off Larry and Vickie to the old gothic estate where Larry grew up, to stay with his family.
Well, they're not quite the Addams Family. Actually, they're way worse -- most of them are broke, one is a transvestite, one is a creepy magician, and one is a creepier lawyer. One may also be a werewolf. The only decent one seems to be kindly, filthy-rich Aunt Kate (Dom Deluise).
And dear ol' Aunt Kate has left all her money to Larry (unless he expires before she does, in which case everyone else will get a share). And soon some very bizarre happenings are cropping up around the old mansion -- including a murdered werewolf, a cobra, and a dead body that pops up in Larry's bed. Is Larry going insane, or is a member of his family trying to make him that way... for filthy lucre?
I get the feeling that "Haunted Honeymoon" was made up on the fly -- it's basically a disintegrating mass of subplots that are introduced and then left to flap in the breeze. Sylvia, Monty's vaguely vampiric, glowy-eyed hypnosis, the dog's hatred of Susan, and other seemingly important plot elements turn out to be red herrings... and I'm not sure what's going on with the guy in the werewolf suit.
So basically the actual plot has more holes than a ripped-up sieve. Fortunately everything OTHER than the plot works. The presence of so many brilliant comic actors keeps it from completely falling apart -- there's plenty of funny dialogue ("Whoever you are, may God strike you DEAD! Now let's have coffee and dessert in the music room...") and humorous comic scenarios (the scene in which Larry sexily cuddles a dead body, mistaking it for Vicki). And it's one of my life's goals to greet a group of people with the line, "I know that one of you is a werewolf."
And those actors do a brilliant job -- though this was the last movie Gilda Radner ever did (and she looks painfully emaciated), she and Wilder are both hilarious and have plenty of loving chemistry. Dom Deluise has plenty of fun as the eccentric, dramatic and rotund Aunt Kate, and has plenty of great lines as well ("... and when the police dragged him out of the ladies' room at Saks Fifth Avenue, THAT was fun too!").
Admittedly not all the actors are great -- Jo Ross, Jim Carter and Eve Ferret give merely adequate performances. But there are some great lesser performances from Jonathan Pryce, Ann Way, and especially Bryan Pringle as a butler with a dual personality... or an evil twin ("I just found Cousin Francis in my bed!" "Was he wearing a dress?" "Yes, he was!" "Just ask him to leave, sir. Tell him you have a headache").
"Haunted Honeymoon" lacks something vital -- a plot that doesn't totally unravel. If it weren't filled with awe-inspiringly good comic actors and dialogue, it would be a disaster. As it is, it's an amusing fluff piece.