Entertainment Magazine

Another Nice Mess

Posted on the 17 July 2016 by Christopher Saunders

Another Nice Mess

The President of Amnesia and his loyal hyena

Television lore holds that Richard Nixon hated The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour so much that he pressured CBS to cancel the show. Tom Smothers sought revenge with Another Nice Mess (1972), a puerile farce casting Nixon and Spiro Agnew as Laurel and Hardy. What might make a decent five minute sketch stretches into an embarrassing hour long feature.
Snide Richard Nixon (Rich Little) and bumbling Spiro Agnew (Herb Voland) blunder their way into the White House. They enrage foreign dignitaries, inflame protestors and baffle Congress with incoherent oratory. After forty minutes of flailing nonsense, something like a plot develops when Adolf Hitler (Bruce Kirby) becomes Nixon's caddy, plotting to destroy the White House and trigger World War III.
Another Nice Mess shows all the sophistication of something hashed out between bong hits. Writer-director Bob Einstein's cheapo film looks like it was shot over two afternoons, padding juvenile jokes with Laurel and Hardy clips, real Nixon speeches, antiwar demonstrations and WWII stock footage. Adding to the incoherence are bizarre inserts where Nixon mocks the film's silliness, and baffling cutaways to Pat Nixon detergent and black Klansmen playing racquetball.
Apparently, Einstein and Smothers thought the mere sight of Nixon and Agnew waltzing in the Oval Office and hurling bricks at each other, Stan and Ollie style, would be hilarious. It's not. Nor are elaborate set pieces (Agnew ruining a state dinner, an undercranked Hardhat-hippie rumble) which run interminably without generating laughs. Meanwhile, Secret Service agents dress as ferns while Hitler plies Nixon's secretary (Diahn Williams) with marijuana. It's satire for six year olds.
Mess's only interest comes from its talent. Bob Einstein became famous playing bumbling stuntman Super Dave Osborne. Rich Little was an expert impressionist, while Herb Voland was a veteran TV actor with recurring roles on Bewitched and M*A*S*H. Bruce Kirby amassed an impressive four decade television career, including nine episodes of Columbo. As a capper, Steve Martin appears as a riotous hippie.
If spotting '70s television personalities is your thing, Another Nice Mess might be a worthy curio. Otherwise, even inveterate Nixon haters will find it unwatchable. With all the opportunities Nixon offers for mockery, the wittiest moment involves Agnew pantsing him on the Capitol steps. Sock it to me, indeed.

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