A Fine Mess

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  • PG
  • 1986
  • 1 hr 30 min
  • 4.7  (1,646)
  • 35

In 1986, a film was released that promised to combine the talents of Ted Danson, Howie Mandel, and Richard Mulligan in a madcap comedy of errors. That film was "A Fine Mess," a slapstick romp that relied on the considerable chemistry between its stars to carry it through some occasionally weak material. In "A Fine Mess," Danson stars as Bobby Fine, a womanizing, perpetually broke jazz musician who lives in a dingy apartment with his pet bird. He has a mostly platonic friendship with the flakey waitress and aspiring actress Spence Holden (played by Maria Conchita Alonso), who is similarly hard up for cash. However, when Bobby meets the wealthy and beautiful Mona Dearly (played by the stunning Isabella Rossellini), he sees his chance to live the high life, and begins wooing her with his charm and musical abilities.

Unfortunately for Bobby, Mona is already engaged to a wealthy businessman named Gilbert (played by Mulligan), who is not above using his influence to get what he wants. When Bobby and Spence are mistaken for a pair of art thieves who have stolen a valuable painting from Gilbert's home, they find themselves in hot water with a variety of unsavory characters, including a pair of bumbling detectives (played by Mandel and Stuart Margolin) and a mob boss named Carmine (played by Paul Sorvino).

As the chaos unfolds and the misunderstandings pile up, Bobby and Spence are forced to elude the police, dodge angry thugs, and ultimately clear their names and prove their innocence. Along the way, they make frequent use of Bobby's musical talents, most notably in a scene where they stage a impromptu jazz number at a swanky club, complete with a giant dancing lobster mascot.

While "A Fine Mess" is not always the most coherent or well-plotted film, it benefits greatly from the energy and comic timing of its cast. Danson is in fine form as the lovable if somewhat sleazy Bobby, and he brings a real sense of warmth to the character that helps to mitigate some of his more unsavory tendencies. Alonso is similarly charming, if somewhat underwritten, as Spence, and the two of them have a genuine chemistry that makes their friendship feel grounded and believable.

Mandel, meanwhile, steals almost every scene he's in as the hapless detective Spenser, who is perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His over-the-top physical comedy is a highlight of the film, and he manages to generate laughs even when the script is at its weakest. Mulligan and Rossellini are both fine in their respective roles, although neither of them is given much to do beyond playing caricatures of wealthy elite.

One of the film's biggest strengths is its willingness to embrace its own silliness and absurdity. Director Blake Edwards, who was responsible for such classic comedies as "The Pink Panther" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's," clearly enjoyed staging elaborate set pieces and sequences that bordered on the surreal. At times, the film feels almost like a live-action cartoon, with characters bouncing off walls and improbably escaping harm.

The jazz-infused score, composed by Henry Mancini, is also a highlight of the film, lending a sense of kinetic energy to the proceedings and underscoring the frenetic pace of the action.

At times, "A Fine Mess" feels a bit slight and forgettable, never quite reaching the heights of comedy that it seems to be aiming for. The plot is convoluted and often strains credulity, and several of the characters are little more than broad stereotypes. However, there is a sense of joyful abandon to the film that makes it difficult not to be swept up in its ridiculousness.

In the end, "A Fine Mess" is a mostly enjoyable if somewhat forgettable comedy that relies on the considerable charm of its cast and the slapstick antics of its plot to keep the audience entertained. It may not be a classic of the genre, but it's certainly worth a watch for fans of madcap comedies and lovers of mindless entertainment.

A Fine Mess is a 1986 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.7 and a MetaScore of 35.

A Fine Mess
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 30 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    4.7  (1,646)
  • Metascore