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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Start the Revolution Without Me (1970)



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Consistently amusing but rarely hilarious, Start the Revolution Without Me is a madcap -- or maybe just mad -- comedy about how the French Revolution "really" started. It starts with the birth of two sets of twins, one pair noble and one pair common. They get mixed up of course, so the doctor decides to give one of each pair to each couple. That way, he explains, he knows he's half right. The rest of the story takes place when the twins have grown up. The poor pair become cowards, and the noble pair become corrupt. All four get involved in a series of plots so convoluted it's impossible to keep track of it all -- thankfully, we're not supposed to.

The humor consists of an unceasing string of slapstick and craziness. It's almost too crazy for its own good -- the noble pair, for example, are so nuts they're not so much funny as...well, nuts. Gene Wilder does have a great bit when he's asked his name, though.

Wilder plays one of the nobles and one of the peasants; Donald Sutherland plays the other two. The supporting cast includes Hugh Griffith, who makes a wonderfully bumbling King Louis XVI.