MASH

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Can somebody explain to me what's funny about this film?

Just finished watching it for the second time as I hoped to appreciate it more, but it really just isn't funny for a comedy, and some of the scenes are just plain stupid. Is the scene with Hot Lips and Frank supposed to be funny? Is the shower scene supposed to be funny? What the hell is the point of the football game and why is Hot Lips character totally different and just plain stupid in it?

I laughed once. The main song is probably the best thing about the film and the 'suicide' scene and that plot was good although I wasn't sure if it was meant to be funny. I like how we get a look inside the 'community' if such and it's wonderfully created and shot just like in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but apart from that, I found myself wondering what the hell makes this film so great?



Well it's supposed to be a comedy, and I know it's meant to be dark comedy and the humour is meant to be 'humour in dealing with the horrors of war' and all that.

If you don't think my question is fine then try this one: Can somebody explain to me what's so good about this film?



No your question is more then valid. I down right agree with you! My post must of came off wrong. Sorry.

I watched this to complete the AFI Top 100 list and I walked away from the film wondering how this movie could be considered great? It is not funny, and for a supposed comedy that is the worst thing that it can be.

My only guess is this movie was made in 1970, and served as a metaphor for Vietnam is why people liked it. If you want funny MASH you have to watch the TV show. Not the funniest show ever but it actually made me laugh.



I'm with you 100%, Daniel. I've admired every other Altman film I've seen so far, but I don't find anything particularly memorable or special about Mash. I didn't think it was funny and I didn't care for the episodic narrative. Many of the scenes/skits/sketches felt stale, especially the silly football game at the end, which I've seen replayed in a hundred lame sitcoms over the years. I'm sure Mash felt a lot fresher and innovative back in the day, but I don't think it's aged particularly well.



I can respect its audacity that it attempts to deal with important issues at the time (war), and that certain comic elements are interesting and work with its overall thematic message/metaphors (like I said, I liked the suicide theme), but apart from that the movie just seemed ridiculous to me. I know the film is meant to be without plot, character based, but this is one stupid scene after another (In The Long Goodbye it's done correctly).

The Hot Lips shower scene? Are we supposed to laugh? I can't see any other point of it. I hesitate to call a film or a director sexist/misogynistic because they are just attempting to portray attitudes of characters, but I really don't understand some of these scenes, then her strong minded character turns into a complete joke in the final scene (which itself is a complete joke).



The best Altman I've seen is The Long Goodbye. Lots for me to see yet though.

I didn't think MASH was all that funny either. But it's an ok film.



I am a fan of Altman, which is why I wanted to revisit this movie. I like everything else I have seen: Short Cuts, The Player, The Long Goodbye and McCabe & Mrs. Miller. I'd be interested to see if Holden or Gideon see this thread, I know they are both big Altman fans.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Well, I think The Long Goodbye is an overindulgent, crass joke. Holden will come here and explain why you and I are wrong about these films, but even he will tell you that Altman made his fair share of crap. To answer your questilon - yes the shower scene is supposed to be funny. MASH was one of the first movies to make fun of everything in a serious way. Yes, it's a dark comedy, but mostly it's a satire, and those two combined often strike people the wrong way. You're probably also uncomfortable with the fact that the lead characters are so unsympathetic themselves. They try to appear far above what's happening around them, but really they're scummy surgeons who are good at their jobs. It's difficult to see them as someone to respect more than others. All this may come across as misguided now, but basically MASH encourages you to question everything, including itself. Apparently it was too successful in making you feel uncomfortable and doubt its comedic value (if any).

It was one of the first films, along with Patton, I saw at a walk-in theatre with my parents. (We always went to the drive-in together, but I was dropped off at the walk-in to watch my Disneys and horrors with my brother and best friend.) It was also the first R-rated movie I saw. It was a product of and ahead of its time; it's as much about sex and politics as it is about war. I've watched it twice recently, and it doesn't seem as entertaining to me either, but I like it more than you do and better than some Altmans (and non-Altmans) everybody loves which I can't understand why either.
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Can somebody explain to me what's funny about this film?

Just finished watching it for the second time as I hoped to appreciate it more, but it really just isn't funny for a comedy, and some of the scenes are just plain stupid. Is the scene with Hot Lips and Frank supposed to be funny? Is the shower scene supposed to be funny? What the hell is the point of the football game and why is Hot Lips character totally different and just plain stupid in it?

I laughed once. The main song is probably the best thing about the film and the 'suicide' scene and that plot was good although I wasn't sure if it was meant to be funny. I like how we get a look inside the 'community' if such and it's wonderfully created and shot just like in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but apart from that, I found myself wondering what the hell makes this film so great?

I really don't think belly laughs were the intention of this movie, but from what you've written, I get the impression that you were kind of expecting just a longer version of the television sitcom, which was inspired by this movie, but not meant to be a reproduction of it. I think the movie is more pointed examination of the ugliness of war and the way varied individuals involved dealt with it. If you didn't like the movie, that's fine, but if you tuned in expecting the sitcom with a different cast, your disappoint is not surprising at all.




I think MASH has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, sometimes as subtle as a line inflection or attitudes, sometimes as clever as the Da Vinci tableau (above), and sometimes just fully crafted jokes with punchlines ("He was drafted"). No, it's not Stripes or Buck Privates, nor is it the TV show, but what it is makes me laugh, anyway. Even after dozens of viewings over the years.

Every time I watch this movie I wind up whistling like Sutherland's Hawkeye for DAYS, afterwards.

But, whatevs.
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I really liked that film! It's not a laugh out loud comedy, but a brilliant satire of war. The characters are really interesting and the soundtrack is fantastic. Sometimes there are movies that just stay with you after you watch it and Mash is a movie like that. Btw I really laughed at the football game scene.
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I didn't like this movie either ... not funny at all and boring per moment .
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I adore MASH and it may appear on my personal '70s list. It's not one of my ABSOLUTE favorite Altman films, because frankly, it does have flaws "objectively" speaking, but I still consider it one of the most satisfying film experiences I've ever had. It's dirty, funny, entertaining, dark, atmospheric, strangely philosophical and just plain memorable filmmaking!

It's such an intensely bold film! Films like MASH are the reason why I love the end of the '60s/beginning of the '70s era so much. Everything seemed possible. There were no boudaries. They weren't trying to make something politically correct or perfectly understandable. They just made personal films that captured a certain zeitgeist, that I unfortunately never experienced myself, but due to films like this, I'm still able to transport myself to those interesting creative times of the early '70s. This film breathes sexual revolution, dark, politically incorrect comedy and indirect criticism towards modern society, in a way only films from the early '70s can.

And yeah, that haunting theme song is just one of my absolute favorite film songs of all time:

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Robert Altman didn't earn a dime from the wild success of "M*A*S*H*" the television series. But somebody in his family did: his son, Michael, who wrote the lyrics to "Suicide is Painless" when he was only fourteen (!!!). So he has publishing rights to that song, lyrics or no. That must still be a nice royalty check, but imagine what it must have been when the show was still running on CBS and heavily syndicated throughout the world! Daaaamn.


"You're throwing your whole education away."

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I just saw it recently and I liked it more than I thought I would. Just watching Sutherland and Gould together was enough for me; I was cracking up just looking at them. I never thought it was anything but a comedy.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
sorry to hear you didn't care for it, Daniel
i know there is only a small amount of love for this film, as for myself, I'm on the side of the fence who has enjoyed and continues to enjoy this film for its brashness and for its moments of subtlety



Sorry Harmonica.......I got to stay here.
I really like this film. It has so many good little moments-- Elliot Gould plopping an olive into the martini, Jo Ann Pflug's little smile in the helicopter, "How do you want your steak cooked?" I do think some of the attempts at comedy were a bit heavy handed, but I overlook them cause it's such a great glimpse into that world.
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