Yes, it’s Hello, Dolly! The story of an annoying pain in the ass with a great set of pipes and an endless supply of vagina hats and the menagerie of dimwits who let her rule their lives!
We’d never seen this before and, oh Jesus, now we know why. This movie sucked.
Our story starts in the phoniest-looking “1890s New York” set you could possibly imagine, where everyone and everything is rendered in bright, bold colors and the streets are completely devoid of horseshit. We meet Babs as Dolly Levi, a professional meddler and headache-inducer.
After she gets done with her intro song, we shift to Yonkers, where Walter Mathau verbally abuses everyone in sight, starting with Tommy Tune, in an unintentionally hilarious role as a heterosexual who wants to marry Walter’s niece. Seriously, Tommy had maybe three lines in the whole film because every time he opened his mouth, glitter and butterflies fell out.
Walter moves on to abusing his niece Ermengarde, who also has about three lines in the film, mainly because she’s annoying. She spends the rest of the time crying because Walter won’t let her get married to an obviously gay man.
After that, he heads down to his store to kick around his possibly developmentally disabled employees, Cornelius and Barnaby, played by Michael Crawford and….some other guy.
If that wasn’t enough to establish his bona fides as a raging asshole, he then sings (very badly) to the townsmen about how he’s heading off to New York to find a wife so someone can clean up the horseshit and unclog the plumbing for him. Seriously.
We’re ten minutes into this film and having met nearly the entire cast, we hate everyone.
Babs shows up because for some reason, Walter wants her to escort his niece to New York to keep her away from the very tall gay man that wants to marry her. But he just said that he was heading into New York. It’s at this point that we realize this movie isn’t even going to try and make sense, so we sit back and decide to spend the rest of the time picking out the gay men in the background and making fun of the clothes.
Walter heads out and Babs takes the opportunity to wail a little about how she’s scheming to marry him.
She stumbles across Ermengarde and Tommy trying to run away to elope but instead she convinces them to — oh God, it’s so complicated. Something about going to New York and entering a dance contest at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant. Who the hell knows why.
Not having fulfilled her meddling quota for the day, she overhears the dimwits in the basement complaining that they never get to touch women (although we have our doubts that Barnaby really wants to, if you know what we’re saying) and she also convinces them to go to New York to see Irene Molloy at her hat shop. Because…what? She gives out blowjobs to strange men? Who knows?
Irene is the gal Dolly set up with Walter, see. Oh, the scheming!
For no discernible reason, the entire town breaks into song about how they’re going to head off to New York for blowjobs.
Seriously, Dolly has some sort of weird hold over these people, who get increasingly manic as this number goes on.
Look at them. They’re completely out of their minds. Must be some kind of Jewish witchcraft.
Now we’re at Irene Molloy’s dress shop, which is roughly the size of a ballroom and about as brightly lit as a Laugh-In set.
Irene is a special girl who dresses up in clown clothes and sings to her reflection about how horny she is.
Cornelius and Barnaby show up and can’t work up the nerve to ask about her legendary blowjob service.
Because they’re morons.
They spot Babs and Walter outside the shop and, suddenly realizing that they left the store unattended, panic and hide. Irene is confused.
Walter smells the man on her and rages and swings a walking stick around, which isn’t Freudian at all. He calls off the engagement – even though he never actually asked her to marry him – and storms out. He does a lot of storming out.
Babs is pleased that her “plan” (whatever the hell it is) is going perfectly and pairs off the boys with Irene and her dimwitted assistant Minnie. Irene’s all “Be a tramp? Sounds like fun!” and they all agree to go to – you guessed it – The Harmonia Gardens restaurant. Per Babs’ suggestion, of course.
This leads to half of New York dancing in the streets. Again, some sort of Jewish witchcraft.
After that, Babs decides to reflect on her life and practice her Spanish.
This is just a taste of how bloated and overblown this whole film is. Gene Kelly was the director and SOMEBODY should’ve put the brakes on him.
Later that night, the girls put on their best clown clothes and meet the boys for dinner. The boys of course have about 3 pennies to their names, but they figure the jail time will be worth it if they can get some oral sex out of it.
Next stop: THE HARMONIA GARDENS RESTAURANT! Where the decor is grandiose…
…and the waiters are GAY!
Meanwhile, our cast of characters are in place. The gals are ordering the most expensive shit on the menu, to the boys’ increasing horror…
Ermengarde and Tommy are there. Being annoying.
And Walter is stuck having dinner with another of Babs’ setups, designed to make her look good in comparison.
Irene lets Cornelius get to the 1890 version of first base.
And Babs makes her big entrance, looking just a little bit like Big Bird.
Unfortunately, this is only an extract from this iconic number, although to be honest, we’re doing you a favor because, like every number in this film, it’s about 3 times as long as it needs to be. You do get to see Babs surrounded by a gaggle of gay waiters and that’s as it should be, kittens.
Credit where it’s due, Babs was totally wrong for this part (which she later admitted), but at least she sells the hell out of the title song.
Okay! We’re heading past the 2-hour mark on this mess, so let’s see if we can wrap things up better than the film makers did. Walter’s date left. Babs corrals him and proceeds to deliberately annoy the shit out of him. We’re not sure why she thought this was a good way to land a husband.
The dance contest starts and Walter is shocked to see not only his niece and her gay boyfriend, but his two employees with his former soon-to-be-fiancee.
Walter savagely beats his niece on the dance floor to the horror of all.
Haha, no. There’s the usual shenanigans. Someone gets a pie in the face, glasses are broken, pandemonium ensues and Walter gets punched. Suddenly, we’re feeling really sorry for James Brolin for some reason.
After having practically destroyed his life, Barbra continues her seduction by singing goodbye VERY LOUDLY in his face and figuratively castrating him by stealing his walking stick. Gosh, why hasn’t he fallen in love with her yet?
To be honest, this is a funny, catchy song and she sells the hell out of this one too.
Blahblahblah. True love. Annoying song.
All the young folks show up at Walter’s store the next day and declare that they’re forming a free-love commune. Babs shows up with his walking stick and we all know what that means…
Yeah, that doesn’t make a lick of sense. She spent the movie destroying him and he spent it hating her, but like we said, we’re well past the two-hour mark, so there you have it. Wedding. Happy Ending. Annnnd scene.