Greed is a trope used in the realm of fiction to be associated with drama, and usually involves some very thematic elements to it. Yet the theme really has not been associated with the genre of comedy. Enter the 1963 film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, a comedy that showcases a lot of funny talent, and that the idea of greed can be taken for a laugh. And of course, this is all done in a lighthearted manner. However, there are some major problems concerning the film, in general that go along with this movie. “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” is a comedy about greed, that you might want to use your time wisely while watching it.
The story involves a crook (Jimmy Durante) who dies off a Californian highway, but a couple of travelers come and hear his last words. Those being that he has hidden a large sum of money ($350,000 to be more precise) and it’s theirs. The group argues as to how the money should be split amongst everybody, so they come to the only logical conclusion that it’s every man for himself. Herein lies a catch to the whole situation: the money is buried in a park under a big W. Eventually, the police get involved, including the captain (Spencer Tracy), and from here, things get really chaotic. Now, it’s a race to see who can get to the big W first.
“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” is a nice unique comedy that uses its subject matter of greed to its fullest. The plot is simple and easy to understand, so much so that a remake of this movie, “Rat Race”, pretty much did the same thing. Now, since this is a comedy, a lot, and I do emphasize on this, a lot of comedians are in this film; there’s even some surprise cameos thrown for good fun. And because of this, the comedy works very well within the boundaries of this movie. From slapstick, to jokes, the viewer can be ensured laughter will be had while watching this film. Even Spencer Tracy does a good performance in this movie. The direction is equally good, the stunts – both in the air and on the ground – are amazing, and the location of Southern California makes the cinematography worth it, albeit a lot of things have been changed, quite a bit. But what you’re in for is the comedy, and you’ll definitely get it here.
But that’s not saying that the movie has problems. For one thing, the main musical theme does replay itself quite a number of times, which can be a bit irritating on the ears. As stated before, there are several cameos from various famous comedians, but they are only on screen for short amount of time, which is fine, but the cameos could have been a bit longer. Speaking of time, the run time for this movie is nearly three hours long; it is really worth watching if one has some spare time on their hands. However, the payoff is definitely worth every minute of it.
In conclusion, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” showcases some really funny talent, albeit at a long length, by detailing what could happen if greed was taken in a much lighter and more comical tone.