An Exercise in Cold War Absurdity. This is a true classic, with one of the wittiest scripts ever written, and hilarious performances from a perfect cast. It's not slapstick, which is perhaps why some people not acquainted with British humor (at least before Monty Python), have been turned off. It's also a bit sophisticated for children. It's a satire which relies for its laughs on an absurd plot, absurd dialogue, and hilariously absurd caricatures. Although it's considered a harmless entertainment, 'The Mouse That Roared' is chock full of satiric jibes at the dirty politics, international relations, and paranoid culture of The Cold War- its just that the jokes are so quick and subtle that you might miss them if you blink (one of my favorite touches concerns a radio report of 'aliens'- actually the chain-mailed soldiers of Grand Fenwick- sighted in Central Park. Upon hearing the report amongst a crowd of shocked New Yorkers, one well-dressed, perfectly normal looking gent mutters about the supposed alien invasion: 'I knew it it HAD to come to this!' This is the filmmakers' fairly accurate portrayal of how far some Americans had descended, by this time, into Atomic, Cold War and Space-Crazed paranoia). It should be said that the diplomatic relations between America and the World, as portrayed in this film, are even MORE RELEVANT now than they were during the Cold War; except that the American statesmen seem so virtuous and well-meaning in comparison to some of our current ones. Rent it and you'll see what I mean. This is also, all things considered, probably the best Peter Sellers vehicle produced in Britain- all the rest, of varying quality, were much shorter on laughs (also of note, however, are 'The Naked Truth' and 'Only Two Can Play'). Tully Bascombe is not an outrageous or demonstrative character like Inspector Clouseau. Instead, Sellers takes a fairly normal, if a bit pathetic, Everyman and manages to make him quite funny in nearly every scene. And as the Grand Duchess he is absolutely hilarious- it's impossible to watch this performance for a moment without laughing. As someone who is very well acquainted with British film comedies, I can say without hesitation that this is one of the very best, even in a decade which produced 'The Lavender Hill Mob' and 'The Ladykillers' (directed by Alex MacKendrick, who was a cousin to Roger macDougall, the ingenious screenwriter of 'Mouse That Roared.' Even if the film's plot and dialogue were not so consistently funny, its undoubted charm, and its magnificent triple performance by Sellers, are more than worth the price of rental.
The Mouse That Roared
The Mouse That Roared
An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose, but things don't go according to plan.
January 27, 2021