- March 7, 2023 to March 9, 2023
A sequel 40 years in the making to the classic film.
Forty years and this is what we get? Good God History of the World, Part II is awful. It’s not even funny in a “so-stupid-it’s-funny” way. That was an element of the original film as well as Brooks’ work in general. Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and so many more. All stupid yet funny to one extent or another. You would at the minimum smile.
Mel Brooks could write stupid stuff that was funny. You may not have laughed out loud but you would certainly smile. Though he is a producer on History of the World, Part II and according to the Internets does contribute some writing here and there, this project certainly lacks his magic and juvenile sensibilities. Or maybe he just lost his touch. Or worse his name is on there more for his credentials than it is an indication of him having an actual hand in whatever got up on the screen.
Brooks hosts/narrates the series but that alone is not enough to elevate the weak (at a good moment) material we get. We get performers known for comedy that cannot generate a smile and you would think that would help. It does not. More wasted credentials.
Ike Barinholtz, Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Johnny Knoxville, Jack Black, Rob Corddry, J.B. Smoove, Danny DeVito, Josh Gad, Marla Gibbs, Anna Maria Horsford, Jake Johnson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Richard Kind, Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Taika Waititi, Fred Armisen, Will Sasso, and Paul Scheer all are known comedy commodities but can do nothing for this material. Either they have reputations that are undeserved or the material really is that bad. Or both.
History of the World, Part I is probably not the greatest film of Mel Brooks’ catalog but it was so much better than this. It was silly and fun and managed to poke fun or mock topics in a juvenile yet entertaining way. History of the World, Part II has none of that. This is something that was so bad that when I watched I forgot it was on. Or maybe my mind was trying to shield me from the festering mess on the screen.
I didn’t go into this expecting great comedy. Recapturing any level of magic a second time is a tough act. I expected chuckles and maybe feeling bad at myself that I laughed at something. I expected at the bare minimum to regularly smile. I dare say a funeral would’ve generated more laughs for me than this did. Writing that joke generated more laughs for me than this did. I could keep making jokes like that and generate more laughs for me than this did but I have to stop at some point.
I was not expecting fantastic production values. In fact History of the World, Part I was done more like a 50s film in its costume design and set designs than anything even from the time in which it was made. Historic authenticity was not my main concern, but History of the World, Part II lacks decent production values even on a comedic level. It looks like a rush job, or something done on the bare minimum of costs. A cheap direct to video release and not something requested to draw viewers to a streaming service.
And while this is an anthology comedy series it hops around a lot. Any jokes or humor they’re building on or building towards get interrupted by hopping to another bit. The original had completed one arc before moving on to another even if it referenced back to that previous work. This here prevents the audience from becoming invested in the material by completing nothing before going to another story.
This is a series that takes its name and general style from History of the World, Part I but has none of the quality of that. It’s a bad comedy that hopes to have some success because of the name it is trying to ride the coattails of.
History of the World, Part II is nothing great. It’s not even a curiosity worth checking out because you’ve seen the first one. It’s unfunny from start to finish despite the legendary Mel Brooks being attached to it. Skip. Do not waste your time.