MATILDA is one of the more ridiculous green-lit studio productions of its era, and as lousy a movie as 1978 could summon. A critical and box-office massacre, it might amuse little children from, say, another planet. *
This is about a boxing kangaroo who ends up fighting the “champeen” of the World. Producer Al Ruddy pumped over $5,000,000 of his take from The Godfather into this gurgle, and there was a sizable publicity buildup, but all of the baked bread didn’t get anything resembling direction out of Daniel Mann, one laugh out of the script, some cleverness from the camera or anything worth hearing from the score.
Elliott Gould is obnoxious, Clive Revill looks like he’s actually taking it seriously, Robert Mitchum hits the lowest point of his career. Lionel Stander is almost as abrasive as Gould. Karen Carlson and Larry Pennell do well enough. The title ‘roo’ is a guy in a $30,000 suit, pathetically unconvincing. My late brother-in-law (Pennell) did thoroughly enjoy working with Mitchum, who was laid back, unaffected and a great raconteur. At one point, there was a big crowd scene, hundreds of extras, and some little kid in the mob spoiled several takes, leading Bob to bellow “Feed the kid to the kangaroo!”
103 painful minutes, with help from Harry Guardino, Roy Clark, Art Metrano and Lenny Montana (‘Luca Brasi’,to you Corleone paisan).
* In bad ’78 company: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Rabbit Test, Convoy, The Stud, Force 10 From Navarone, The Swarm, The Wiz, Avalanche, The Betsy, The Big Sleep, Bloodbrothers, Debbie Does Dallas. That’s a lot of wasted pot….…