Like I said in my Follow Me, Boys! review, I have several movies on my DVR. Most of these films were recorded last year or over a year ago. Last night, I chose to watch one of these films, which I added to my DVR last June. This film is Never a Dull Moment! Sometime, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a marathon called “Treasures from the Disney Vault”. When this event takes place, the network will show a collection of smaller titles and lesser known films from Disney. In one of these marathons, Never a Dull Moment was included in the line-up. While I had never heard of this film prior to the marathon, I have seen two of Dick Van Dyke’s movies. Because one of those films was Mary Poppins, which I have enjoyed, I had a good indication that I might like Never a Dull Moment. Was this the case? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Before watching Never a Dull Moment, I had seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. A consistent component of Dick Van Dyke’s acting abilities I have noticed is the strong adaptability. In one scene, his character, Jack, is acting drunk in an attempt to impersonate a gangster. Moments later, Jack is crying over the loss of a fictional Aunt Gladys. This is a great example of how Dick could effortlessly take on any situation through his performance! At limited moments in the film, a gangster named Florian would appear. This character was portrayed by Tony Bill. What I liked about his performance is how calm and collected his persona came across. Even though Florian was Leo Smooth’s henchman, he presented an idea of a gangster that people have come to recognize in film. While I liked Dorothy Provine’s portrayal of Sally, I want to talk about Joanna Cook Moore’s portrayal of Melanie, as her on-screen presence was shorter. Joanna’s personality was bubbly, which appeared natural for her character. During a scene where Melanie is showing Jack some of her figure skating photos, Joanna seemed to use her performance to light up the room. Her on-screen presence was memorable, despite being featured in only three scenes.
The set design: I was really impressed by the set design in Never a Dull Moment! Since the movie takes place in New York, tall skyscrapers and even the Brooklyn Bridge can be seen. This specific set looked impressive, making the location feel larger than life! Another great example of set design was Leo Smooth’s mansion. My favorite feature of this set was the consistency and fine detailing of the woodwork, especially on the staircase! A local art museum is where the film’s heist is featured. During the climax, various art exhibits are showcased. The Pop Art exhibit was the best one, as the art itself was colorful. It was also large in scale, creating a space that felt grand.
The music: If used well, music can help set a tone for either the whole movie or a particular scene. The music certainly did that for Never a Dull Moment! Whenever Jack was sneaking around Leo’s mansion, smooth jazz music could be heard. This fits the tone of those scenes because it emulates a feeling of curiosity that usually comes from film-noir and mysteries. In a scene involving a spinning piece of art, music from a merry-go-round was playing in the background. Since the art itself is colorful and the scene is meant to be humorous, this musical selection makes sense.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A drawn-out story: One overarching narrative of Never a Dull Moment revolves around a group of gangsters planning to steal a valuable painting. While an important component of any heist is the preparation stage, this part of the process lasted longer than it should have. Only one scene is dedicated to highlighting the plans for the heist. But the rest of that time was spent focusing on things not related to the heist. One example is Melanie Smooth attempting to relive her glory days as a famous figure skater. Moments like this had nothing to do with the heist and caused the overall story to feel drawn out.
Little sense of urgency: Heist films are usually fast paced, as there is a sense of urgency to carry out the heist. But, in Never a Dull Moment, the amount of urgency within the story was small. For most of the film, Jack hangs out at Leo Smooth’s mansion. This part of the movie was mundane, as little to no excitement was taking place. Even the gangsters’ activities didn’t feel out of the ordinary. A good example is when Leo is painting in his office. While the overall level of excitement picked up when the heist started, the build-up itself was not exciting.
A dull first half: With a title like Never a Dull Moment, you’d think the movie as a whole would be intriguing and action-packed. However, that is not the case for this film. I found the first half of the movie to be dull. This is the result of the story being drawn out and a small amount of urgency. Even though a part of the overall narrative focuses on a heist, this aspect of the story seemed to be an afterthought within the film’s first half. The heist itself took place in the second half of the movie. But this doesn’t make up for the weak nature of the previous segment.
My overall impression:
As of late June to early July 2020, I have reviewed four live-action Disney films from the ‘60s. Three out of four of these movies have been ok or “middle of the road”. Never a Dull Moment was one of them. I will say this is a better heist movie than Logan Lucky. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I had expected it to be. The film is titled Never a Dull Moment, but the first half of the story is just that: dull. It also doesn’t help that there was a small amount of urgency. But the movie did contain elements that I did like. Some of them includes the acting and the set design. As weird as it sounds, Never a Dull Moment doesn’t feel like a Disney movie. It’s understandable for a studio to try new things and think outside the box. Never a Dull Moment, however, seems like belongs to a different studio. Like my Follow Me, Boys! review, I can’t fully recommend this movie, but I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.
Overall score: 6.2 out of 10
Have you seen any of Dick Van Dyke’s films? Which live-action Disney film from the ‘60s do you like or dislike? Tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!