Picks and Pans Review: Yellowbeard

updated 07/11/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/11/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The cast of this pirate spoof includes Monty Pythonites Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, plus Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Tommy Chong, Peter Cook, Martin (Endless Love) Hewitt, Cheech Marin, Kenneth Mars, James Mason, Stacy (Halloween III) Nelkin and Susannah York. They all average about a laugh apiece, which, if it doesn't make this film a treasure chest of humor, does make it funnier than most film comedies these days. Chapman has the title role as a totally ruthless buccaneer. He's perfectly willing to cut off the head of his own son (Hewitt) because it bears a treasure map tattooed on it by Kahn, who's usually referred to as "Mrs. Beard." When Chapman and Hewitt set off after the buried loot, everybody else in the cast follows after them. The pace more than drags at times. And there's a lot of foolish swordfighting and tedious slapstick en route to the treasure island, which is ruled over by Marin, a monarch of vague antecedents who is variously called "Your Vapidity," "Your Ruthlessness" and "Your Offensive-ness" by his chief aide, Chong. (The movie establishes, if nothing else, that Cheech and Chong don't have to resort to cheap drug jokes to get laughs.) The level of the verbal humor is exemplified by one of Geese's bits. As the Cockney "Blind Pew," he tells the stuffy Idle, who portrays a secret agent of Queen Anne, that his lack of sight isn't really incapacitating, protesting, "I've got acute 'earing." Idle impatiently replies, "I don't care about your jewelry." Chapman, Cook (Dudley Moore's unfortunately all-but-forgotten partner) and Bernard McKenna did the writing. Newcomer Mel Damski directed. Students of the genre will, in any case, prefer 1948's The Pirate, which sent up swashbuckling films in more timely, stylish fashion, and had music, with Gene Kelly and Judy Garland to boot. (Parents should note that while Yellow-beard is rated PG, it has a smattering of female nudity and some annoyingly smutty jokes.)

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