I'm hardly describing Meet the Spartansas something to celebrate, at least on the grounds of the trailers -- leave Brittany alone, indeed. However, this week's unpreviewed satire represents the latest version of a film that's a gag, followed by a subsequent gag, followed by yet another gag, without any connective tissue. Now that they're so codified by sequels, it's hard to remember this kind of comedy as something that once seemed berserk and new. What did something like the Olsen and Johnson comedy Hellzapoppin'look like on its first go-round in 1941? Though it was a flop, It was influential, and for years it was synonymous for a certain kind of entertainment. As a kid I always heard my favorite show, TV's Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In described as a new Hellzapoppin'. Watching R and M's shtick today proves it as mirthless as any of these Stupid Movie-style franchisees of today, though I sure hope to do an After Images column on The Maltese Bippysome time. For that matter, which came first, W. C. Field's 70 minute long dazzler Never Give A Sucker an Even Break or Hellzapoppin'? It's the same thing either way: performers in vain search of a plot decide to make the movie anyway.

categories Features, Cinematical