Today’s film was recommended by a good friend of mine.
It was getting time to watch something a little less white. Nearly a third of the way into the month, this is usually around the time where I try to expand the horizons from my own nationality. Something of a surprise recommendation, it also worked as a good way to incorporate more of a diverse menu to my viewing palette as the month goes on. All the better, Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald seems to be almost universally beloved. This entire scenario is ripe for a happy ending.
“A love story written by an ordinary housewife is going to be broadcast as a radio drama and almost everyone among the crew insists on changing various parts of the play to their liking.”
Sorry, there’s no happy ending here.
In hindsight, I do wonder if it would have benefitted me to not read the synopsis for this. Somewhat outrageous, sure, but in doing so, I sort of already know what to expect from the film. This is a “small-scale” picture—a large majority takes place in a single location, within the span of what I imagine was a few hours, with a single situation taking precedence. That’s the key word: single.
Whatever humor can be derived from this film comes from a single joke. A meek housewife who has no self-confidence lets people walk all over her. Alas, the people walking all over her are also being walked all over by others. A long chain of “abuse” (don’t take that too directly) that is more of a “Heh, that’s ironic” kind of funny than anything LOL-worthy. That sort of power play amongst the cast, particularly those in suits, ends up more interesting than the comedy.
I told the person who recommended this to me that my humor is rather absurd. To an average person, “absurd” can mean any number of things. Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald is a certain type of absurdity, yet not exactly what aligns with what generally humors me. Here, the absurdity lies in just how drastically a normal situation gets out of hand by the end. The absurdity that usually gets to me more closely revolves around earnest nonsense. Neil Breen is pretty good at this.
That said, this film didn’t do much for me. I recall a single scene that made me crack a smile, but otherwise had me utter not a sound. Even more damning, the first half of the film was downright boring.
To reiterate, it’s basically just one joke told again and again, upping the stakes with each revision to her script. Of course, this isn’t the only joke made, yet most revolve around the central focus of letting things snowball uncontrollably. What encourages this is said power play, with star actors being spoiled or bosses being unflinching—both of which aren’t all that amusing to me. To put it bluntly, characters throwing temper tantrums because they’re shitty isn’t funny to me.
Fortunately for this film’s sake, it improved drastically by the second half. Though laughter seemed unobtainable from me, it tried a different approach: sentimentality. Small victories. How this film ends, with the cast putting in as much enthusiasm to make right from what was wrong near the beginning, was far more worthwhile to me than how that wrong came to be. It made me better appreciate how all crew members come together to make a cohesive product, and to see them more as people.
Easy as it is to sympathize with the housewife, there are a number of other gray-like characters that both instigate the wrongdoing while also appearing guilty. If nothing else, the effort in making all characters matter, even to miniscule degrees, is heartwarming. That is what I will ultimately take from this.
Ah, but the technical aspects are also worth noting. Don’t think I didn’t notice the numerous long takes scattered across this film. A very commendable job from the performers to ensure that, especially with so many in one room, that they could cohesively bounce off one another for extended periods. Keeps the pace level, too, especially during the earlier segments as everyone is slowly introduced.
Not my thing, at least from a comedy standpoint. Though there is a lot of ironic tidbits that invite some laughter, as well as some visual gags here and there, it’s driven by methods too antagonistic/juvenile for me to care to take it seriously. Thankfully, the ending half made my patience worth it, providing a fulfilling end—corny as it may be—that alleviates some of the pain of the introductory bits. I’d welcome Mr. McDonald back… hesitantly.
Final Score: 6/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!
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Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.
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