Review for What's New Pussycat
I always used to have a rule that if the film starred Peter Sellars I would watch it, because I was guaranteed at least a few laughs from him. After watching What's New Pussycat? I may need to reassess that thought. This 1965 film (much like The Party) is a film with no real plot. The character of Michael James is a womanizer who now wants to be faithful to his fiancee Carole. However, the problem is thatevery woman he meets falls in love with him. He tries to explain this to his Psychoanalyst, Dr Fassbender, but he doesn't think this is such a problem, but then he spends most of the film being chased by a rather large German woman. In the middle of this, Carole wants to make Michael jealous by flirting with his friend, the over-neurotic Victor.
This really is all that happens in the film. I want to say that it is just filled with laughs and jokes, the script is written by Woody Allen after all. Sadly, this film does not have an ounce of the wit and charm he would later bring to his classic films like Annie Hall. When I read about how most of his script was adlibbed and rewritten I can't really blame Allen for what is clearly a vanity project with three egos all fighting over who will take the lion's share of the film.
Peter O'Toole is fine as Michael, but is simply not funny, which makes a lot of what he does seem either crass or silly. Peter Sellars is so over the top as the German Fassbender that I'm not really sure what I should make of it. It is true he still has most of the good lines and scenes in the film, but his acting is so over the top that it is not very entertaining. The female admirers range from one note sex kittens like Ursula Andress to almost, but not quote fully developed characters such as Romy Schneider's Carole or Paula Prentiss' Liz. None of the characters are memorable and the film suffers for this.
Overall the film looks amazing, it is vibrant, full of showy camerawork from the time and the music, including the iconic Oscar-nominated Tom Jones' theme is fabulous. It is a shame that nothing more is done with the opening title animation. This was created by Richard Williams, who went on to create the animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It is just a shame that all these positives are not wrapped around a more enjoyable film.
Apart from a bizarre Trailer, the only extra included is a Commentary by Emma Westwood and Sally Christie. These are two film critics/historians and if you are a fan of the film and the people involved you will enjoy this. I think I actually enjoyed listening to their stories more than I did watching the film.
What's New Pussycat? is a film that belongs in the 1960s. It has not aged well and the Benny Hill-like feel to the comedy and the bizarre nothingness to the plot just did not sit well with me. This is a shame as I was so looking forward to enjoying this film, but sadly this is not a saucer of milk that this pussycat will be drinking again.