Sometimes one just needs to go back to basics in order to make a movie work out really well. In this case, we get some of the very best of Mel Brooks brand of comedy without a whole lot of dialogue. In fact, any time there is dialogue, it's read, as this whole thing plays out like a... well, silent movie.
Mel Funn (Mel Brooks), Marty Eggs (Marty Feldman) and Dom Bell (Dom DeLouise) are a team of filmmakers, lead by Mel. They head to the Chief of Big Picture Studios (Sid Caesar) and pitch an idea for a new film - the first silent film in forty years.
At first, the Chief rejects the idea, claiming that slapstick is dead. However due to the company being in danger of being bought out by conglomerate Engulf & Devour (Harold Gould and Ron Carey, respectively) it is agreed that if the trio can find Hollywood's biggest stars to star in their film, their movie can be made, with the hopes that it'll save the studio.
From there, the film becomes a comedic road trip movie as the three hunt down some of the biggest names in the business, including the likes Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft, Marcel Marceau and Paul Newman, all playing themselves and all lending their own flair for comedy as they're met.
The coolest thing about this movie is that it plays out as a silent movie, bringing us back to some of those old school ways of comedy that have since been left in the dust. The film is very reminiscent, if not farcical of the silent slapstick we've come to know and love from names like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. I'm probably wrong about this, but I think the only other movie to really accomplish this in a big way since this was released in '76, was 'The Artist' from 2011.
Much like with 'History of the World', however, I must forewarn my audience that there's a bit of language used here and there that isn't all that politically correct by today's standards. It happens few times enough though, and 'Silent Movie' remains a very well done film for its time, lending its audience several laugh out loud moments, and remaining light hearted enough it can be considered a Sunday Afternoon Movie (something light and fun to throw on for a giggle where you don't have to think too much).
Speaking for myself, I see it much as I do 'History of the World', in that a lot of the language used was still considered okay for the time. The clean humour here actually far outweighs anything raunchy, and your laughs come from a lot of the visuals and sound effects, as any silent movie should do. I had a lot of fun with this, and would instantly count it among Mel's best projects.