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  •  (2 out of 5 stars)

Spielberg's notorious 1941 is every bit as unfunny as its reputation. Loaded with acting talent and money, Spielberg proves once and for all that he's not a great comedic director and graciously steered clear of the all-out comedy genre going forward. Set in Los Angeles after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the film is relentlessly obnoxious jumping from one noisy subplot to another. The plot involves way too many characters endlessly carrying out some sort of mission against a Japanese submarine off the Southern California coast. The amazing cast includes Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Ned Beatty, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Robert Stack, Nancy Allen, Warren Oates, Treat Williams, Lorraine Gary, Slim Pickens, and many other notable cameos. The foggy cinematography by William A. Fraker is superb, along with excellent elaborate miniature sequences of Hollywood Boulevard and the Santa Monica Ocean Front Amusement Park. The real fault lies in the screwball comedy script by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale as conducted by director Steven Spielberg. Thankfully Spielberg quickly learned his lesson from this one and got back on track with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). The Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams made Airplane! (1980) a year later on a much smaller budget and did everything Spielberg couldn't comedically.

1941 is a 1979 American film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. The film stars an ensemble cast including Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Robert Stack, Nancy Allen, and Mickey Rourke in his film debut. The story involves a panic in the Los Angeles area after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Co-writer Gale stated the plot is loosely based on what has come to be known as the Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942, as well as the bombardment of the Ellwood oil refinery, near Santa Barbara, by a Japanese submarine. Many other events in the film were based on real incidents, including the Zoot Suit Riots and an incident in which the U.S. Army placed an anti-aircraft gun in a homeowner's yard on the Maine coast.

Although 1941 was not as financially nor critically successful as many of Spielberg's other films, it received belated popularity after an expanded version aired on ABC, with subsequent television broadcasts and home video reissues, raising it to cult status.

(Summary from Wikipedia)

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