Ever need to watch a movie that will make you laugh so hard that you can’t help yourself? We’ve seen a lot of slapstick geniuses such as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin. Now we’re going to get quadruple the laughs in this hilarious yet controversial Marx Brothers film. Duck Soup is about the fictional country of Freedonia going into financial chaos and how more chaos occurs when Rufus T. Firefly becomes its newly-appointed leader.
So when you read what the plot of the movie is, you ask yourself “Why on earth would this be called Duck Soup?!” Well, “duck soup” was slang back then for something that’s easy to do. Maybe if the film was called “piece of cake” the gist would be better understood. Because this film was released during the time of the Great Depression and Hitler’s rise to power, it got a lot of backlash for its themes of political disrespect and cynicism towards a country in economic turmoil. That it was taking matters of war and diplomacy too lightly. Even Mussolini despised it and banned it from Italy! Because of the controversy, The Marx Brothers’s contract ended at Paramount and moved on to MGM. Are you thinking that maybe these people need to lighten up a little? It may seem that way but imagine if your country was facing an economic tragedy and a movie was telling the audience to chillax about it. I feel like the reason to see this film is the same reason The Marx Brothers decided to make it- to get a few laughs from the audience. I believe it succeeded in that.
The humor in this film reminds me of the type you would see in Airplane! where it’s satirical and situational. Whether it’s in the physical comedy or the clever zings in its dialogue, there were many laugh out loud moments. For example, I loved the hat shuffling scene. It was very clever and looked like something Charlie Chaplin would do. And the mirror scene, of course, is iconic and influenced many television shows to follow suit. It reminds me of when you’re a little kid and you discover you have a reflection so you play around with it. I also love the musical numbers in how embellished and random they are. Like when Freedonia declares war and the whole song is only about the country going to war. I think my favorite Marx Brother is Harpo in that he needs no words to be funny but just to be clumsy, bright-faced, and to have tattoos to say it all. Who is your favorite Marx Brother? My advice is to take this film as it is- a political satire to make you laugh.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy anywhere but here’s the song “This Country’s Going to War”: