Friday, 8 August 2014

Life Stinks (4 Stars)

It's good to be alive. There's so many things you can't do when you're dead. (sic)

"Life Stinks" is somewhat untypical for the films directed by Mel Brooks. Usually he makes parodies, but this is only a comedy. Having said that, the film does have a serious message, especially to me, because I can relate to what the main character is going through.

Goddard Bolt, played by Mel Brooks himself, is the richest man in Los Angeles. At a meeting with his lawyers he tells them that he owns half of the city's slum quarter, and he plans to buy the other half that is currently owned by the city. He wants to build a flagship building complex for his company, Bolt Enterprises. The meeting is interrupted by Goddard's biggest rival, Vance Craswell. Vance says that he's just bought the city's half of the slums, and he wants to buy Goddard's half, so that he can build new luxury apartments for the rich. The meeting is deadlocked, with both men refusing to sell to the other. Vance offers a wager. He says that if Goddard can live for 30 days in the slums as a penniless homeless person he'll give him his half of the land; otherwise Goddard has to hand over his half.

And so the city's richest man has to live on the streets, begging for money and food. The film is intended to be a comedy, but I couldn't laugh. It was like seeing my own life. I was never a billionaire, but I had always been relatively wealthy, richer than most. Then my life came crashing down around me and I lived on the streets, sleeping first under a canal bridge, then in an abandoned factory. Then I was admitted to a hospital, where I was treated badly. Just like Goddard in the film, who was almost killed by being given the wrong medication. Goddard's time of suffering lasted 30 days, followed by a few days in hospital. I was on the streets for about the same time, but I had to spend 17 months in hospital.

So I can't laugh at Goddard's plight. Although I can appreciate his improved outlook as a result of his suffering. Life doesn't stink. It's good to be alive, even if you're living on the streets. There are so many things you can't do when you're dead.

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