The plot and situations in this movie are so ridiculous that I was laughing until I cried, especially toward the end.
I just saw The Barefoot Executive for the first time on TV, and was
pleasantly surprised. Joe Flynn was funnier than in any episode of
McHale's Navy (in which he played a similar character). His crabby,
confused, exasperated behavior and expressions throughout the film just
made me roll. Starts out kind of slow and campy, with a silly plot. I
thought at first just another squeaky clean shallow 70's family movie.
But the film really starts to get funny when Kurt Russel's character
realizes that the chimp can pick the winning TV shows. As Russel tries
to sneak the chimp into the TV preview room, the scenes of the chimp
going up and down the mail dumbwaiter are great. The interaction
between Flynn and his chauffeur (Wally Cox) are hilarious. The chimp's
reactions when a very young (and very funny) John Ritter sneak into the
apartment are great. When Flynn, Cox and Ritter spy on the chimp, and
the resulting kidnapping scene on the building ledge, it just
absolutely cracked me up! Lots of comical sight gags and facial
expressions in this movie. A very funny moment that's easy to miss is
when Flynn is eating a banana (soon after hearing a Doctor "expert"
theorize that bananas are "brain food") - one example of great humorous
satire throughout the movie. Bill Daily has a brief but hilarious part
towards the end. A great and appropriate ending wraps it all up in a
neat package which I won't reveal - all very funny!.
This is an absolutely hysterical junk-food movie if you are in the mood
for that sort of thing. Kurt Russell stars as mail room worker Steven
Post, who wants to get ahead at his TV Network but can't get his stuffy
boss Mr. Wilbanks, played in inimitable fashion by the legendary Joe
Flynn, to use any of his ideas (now, who would turn down a show idea
called "Lincoln's Doctor's Dog," anyway?). But then he finds a way to
make them all take him seriously....
It isn't giving anything away to reveal that the way Post gets the
executives to listen to him is through his girlfriend's chimp, who has
a taste for highly rated TV shows. The chimp even likes to take a beer
during commercial breaks. If the satirical possibilities in this brief
summary aren't leaping out at you yet, then this film probably isn't
for you. But if you see where the film is going with this, then sit
back and enjoy some of the funniest satire about the TV business that
you'll ever see. So the collective taste of the viewing public is at
the level of a beer-swilling chimp, hmmmm....
John Ritter is terrific as a network underling who sneers at everything
Post does, and Harry Morgan steals the film as the Network President
who starts fearing for his own job because he's not as smart about the
viewing public's taste as is the chimp. Wally Cox as Mertons, Flynn's
chauffeur, is terrific. He isn't listed as such in the credits, but I'm
willing to bet that he also plays the role of the scientist who
confirms that, yes, bananas really are brain food.
Anyway, this is biting satire, and what happens to the bigwig TV
executives at the end clearly is wish fulfillment that undoubtedly
echoes the feelings of most who work in the TV industry. Heather North
is fine, if a bit of a wallflower, as Post's girlfriend who actually
owns the chimp, and Bill Daily briefly appears as an airline worker who
helpfully notes that they are over "unexplored territory" at the film's
Brilliant comedy, made me laugh out loud several times..