The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Buckle up, kids; we're in for a weird ride.
Buckle up, kids; we’re in for a weird ride.

“This movie is totally out of control”

Directed by John Landis
Starring… Well, no one really.

This film is not so much a single film as a series of sketches, including news and current affairs parodies, mock advertisements and movie trailers and spoof pornography. The longest single segment is A Fistful of Yen, a half hour parody of Enter the Dragon which ends up as a Wizard of Oz pastiche.

What’s wrong with it?

The film opens with a news anchor announcing: “The popcorn you are eating has been pissed in.” This neatly prepares the audience for the tone of the picture as a whole.

As with most sketch movies (in as much as the genre is or ever has been a going concern,) the material is of inconsistent quality.

What’s right with it?

Where the film is on form, it is pretty funny.

The Kentucky Fried Movie launched the careers of Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers, and of director John Landis, so is responsible in part for the likes of Airplane and An American Werewolf in London.

How bad is it really?

It’s not bad, just wildly uneven and heavy with frat humour.

Best bit (if such there is)?

While A Fistful of Yen is the most consistent and developed part of the film, it suffers from being more of a quick recap of Enter the Dragon with jokes than its own beast. The sharpest hit is probably spoof disaster movie trailer That’s Armageddon, in particular the overwrought and circular argument between George Lazenby and his female lead in the midst of explosions and destruction.

What’s up with…?

  • Big Jim Slade?
  • Seventies attitudes to… sex? feminism? homosexuality?
  • Just… the fucking seventies, man?

Ratings

Production values – Wow! It’s been a long time since I saw a film this unrestored. The Amazon video print looks like it was lifted from an elderly VHS. On the other hand, there’s clearly a lot of work put into the sketches, including a vast array of martial arts trainers and experts involved in producing A Fistful of Yen4
Dialogue and performances – While more comedians than actors, the cast of the movie make a good showing with an erratic script, highly reliant on boob jokes. A handful of classy cameos (and George Lazenby) spice things up a bit. 14
Plot and execution – The film barely qualifies as having a plot. The nearest it comes is A Fistful of Yen, which is itself a mixture of a borrowed plot and the weird hodge-podge of a parody, ending up with the almost obligatory Wizard of Oz bit. 16
Randomness – Big Jim Slade. 12
Waste of potential – Sketch movies are a weird mamajamma at the best of times. While it is not highbrow entertainment, The Kentucky Fried Movie isn’t bad as these things go. 8

Overall 54%

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