Come Back, Mel Brooks!: An Open Letter
Dear Mr. Brooks,
You don’t know me, but you and I go way back. I’ve been watching your movies ever since I was a kid. I can still quote most of them. You, sir, are the king. Spaceballs? Hilarious. Young Frankenstein? Classic. Robin Hood: Men in Tights? I will never be able to watch the original (complete with a sequined Errol Flynn) the same way again.
You have such a great knack for writing, such panache and humour. You set the bar not only for how to spoof but how to do it well, do it right. You are one of the few people to not only get an Emmy and a Tony, but an Oscar and Grammy too! To you, sir, I tip my hat.
At least I would, if I knew which direction I should be facing. The problem is I don’t have a clue where you’ve gone.
To be honest, you’re a hard man to track down now. You were easy to find at one time. All you had to do was follow the laughs all the way back to the musical campfire number (that’s my Blazing Saddles nod for you there). You were the best writer/director/funny man since anybody. It’s no wonder that the television people grabbed you up between your directing stints. You knew how to turn a phrase. Heck, you started in television. You knew your way around. But why didn’t you come back to us then?
Yes yes, I know. Broadway called and you had to answer. You returned to your directing roots, in a sense. The Producers was your first directed film, and now it was becoming your first Broadway musical. It was great. It was sensational! It was giving new life to your work, releasing it to a new generation of admirers. And then it happened again! Young Frankenstein followed The Producers into the Broadway spotlight. And yes, getting a musical set up takes time. I understand all that. But it’s all over and done with now, and you’re still nowhere to be found. Why won’t you come back to us?
Your films are all so well loved. There’s not a person I know who has seen your films and didn’t enjoy them. I’m sure you could say different about the circles you run in, but film critics don’t count in my books. You’re a writer first, but since bringing an animated version of Spaceballs to the small screen, we’ve been denied anything new from you. You haven’t made a movie in years.
I don’t think you understand what’s happened to the ‘spoof’ movie genre since you left, Mr. Brooks. It’s gone downhill. What used to be honorable mocking and harmless fun has become offensive. It’s overwhelming. Spoof films are more like drugged up hummingbirds now, moving from one film reference to the next without giving the audience a chance to recognize the source, never mind appreciate it. You picked a movie and milked it for all it was worth. Parodies today try to cram as many references as they can in without remorse.
So you see, Mr. Brooks, the world misses you. The audience misses you. We miss your particular brand of humour, the Mel Brooks touch. We miss how your films never took themselves seriously, and never had to. We miss embracing their quirkiness, their ability to take the things we love and mock without hurt.
Come back to us, Mr. Brooks. We miss you.
L.M. Magalas (and anyone else who has ever loved a Mel Brooks movie)