I distinctly remember seeing Blake Edwards' A Fine Mess during its theatrical run in 1986. I may have been only 14 years old (arguably the only logical demographic for a movie like this) but I knew enough to walk out of the theater bored, annoyed, and holding my nose in the universal symbol for "Dear lord did that movie suck."
Allegedly intended to be a vehicle for the surefire comedic pairing of Burt Reynolds and Richard Pryor, A Fine Mess ended up starring Ted Danson and Howie Mandel. Danson and Mandel, in certain situations and in small doses, can be very funny guys ... but to jam 'em into a witless slapstick farce full of vaudeville-style schtick, rapid-fire stupidity, and lots of physical comedy, well, let's just say it's not two of the best casting decisions ever made.
Danson and Mandel play a pair of "kooky" best pals who discover that a certain horse has been drugged, so they bet on the race, win 10 grand, get chased by the gangster idiots who originally drugged the horse, and wind up accidentally bidding on an antique piano at a swanky auction house. Price of piano: 10 grand.
Then we switch over to yet another chase-laden subplot in which our lead morons try to sell the piano to the mafia godfather who employs the other two gangster idiots. Meanwhile, familiar faces like Richard Mulligan, Paul Sorvino, James Cromwell, and Maria Conchita Alonso wander through the background, looking desperately in a hurry to get the damn shoot finished with already.
Obviously inspired by the 1932 Laurel & Hardy short The Music Box, A Fine Mess represents director Blake Edwards at his most witless and desperate. Try to make it through the sheer pain of A Fine Mess while contemplating the fact it was helmed by the same man who did Victor/Victoria, S.O.B., and the entire Pink Panther series. It's a pretty startling difference between those films and the grade-school silliness that's offered here.
Video: All nine of the Fine Mess fans will be pleased to learn that the film hits DVD in a fairly solid anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer, which almost helps the movie escape looking exactly like three sitcom episodes strung together. Almost.
Audio: A half-decent Dolby Digital 2.0 track, with optional subtitles in English and French.
Extras: Only a few trailers for Hitch, Guess Who, a Richard Pryor concert double feature, and Sony's "80's Movies."
To borrow an obvious criticism from the flick's original theatrical release: the thing's an absolute mess ... and there's nothing fine about it.