No accounting for taste, I guess - this is my least favorite of the comeback Columbias. It moves very slowly, and the two big feature bits, the sumo match and the Maha routine aren't a patch on the originals. Derita is simply too old and fat for the wrestling match, although I'll admit that changing it to a sumo match was a good try at excusing Derita's weight, which is huge here. This is as fat as he got, I think...he's smaller in Outlaws. In Punch Drunks, the crowd was back-projected, fairly convincingly; in this one it just looks like about 40 extras milling around. And I wasn't a fan of the Maha routine even in Three Little Pirates. Once you've seen the routine in Time Out For Rhythm, with a healthy Curly, you don't need any other versions. Derita plays this as if he doesn't get the jokes, and maybe he doesn't. I think one of the good parts of the original Maha routine is that the double-talk isn't just double-talk, it's yiddish double talk, and Derita sounds about as yiddish as strawberry shortcake. Perhaps the problem is that Norman Maurer was writer, director, producer, and the star's son-in-law. No one on set was going to tell him if something sucked. This was VERY plot-heavy, at the expense of stoogery, and all the jokes about the master's split-second timing weren't very funny. Curly Joe bounces off a wall in fast motion, which was funny to me, and you can tell it was a good hard fall even without the undercranking. They are old now, and are really starting to look it.
One reference which we're all too young to get is when they're reduced to walking, and Larry makes a reference to " Kennedy-style hiking ". JFK had a physical fitness program for all Americans, in fact it was his initiative that put phys. ed. in public schools, and another of his suggestions was that adults take a 50-mile hike on a regular basis. That one didn't catch on, in fact was considered a joke, hence Larry's line was supposed to be a laugh. The problem was, by the time the movie was released, JFK had been killed. That killed THAT laugh.
And at the finale, with Curly-Joe driving the paddy wagon, they drive in silence. No cross-talk, no jokes. Where was the writer? Oh, yeah, he was directing, er, producing , er, nepotizing, yeah yeah, that's right.
I realize I'm in the minority here, but I consider this the weakest of the Columbia comebacks.