HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART II (2023)
Aired On: Hulu
Release Date: 03/06/23
"Sequel to the 1981 film, History of the World: Part I."
From the mind that brought us 1981’s History of the World: Part I, Mel Brooks has dug up and dusted off this ancient concept and brought us a sequel to the film in the form of a sketch comedy series; History of the World: Part II. I wish I could say I enjoyed the new attempt at Brooks’ brand of satire comedy for a modern audience, but I’d be big fibbing.
It's not to say this show doesn’t do what it sets out to; bring the brilliance of Brooks to both newer and nostalgic audiences. The millions of fans that have rallied around Brooks’ films for decades have proven the effects of his comedic genius. I know people who still watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights like it’s their full-time job. Personally, I love Young Frankenstein. History of the World: Part II, however, lays out different takes on famous stories (a-la Drunk History) and slaps the Mel Brooks formula on it. And nothing else. It doesn’t feel original, nor clever. With modern comedy icons like Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Taika Waititi (just to name a few), the starpower doesn’t carry the series the way I’m sure the studio hoped. The jokes are either barely chuckle worthy, or they build and build just to fall flat at the last second and fail to reach a punchline at all.
I thought maybe a legacy sequel could work, considering the jam packed cast involved. But once it got going, it was starting to occur to me that much of the cast and celebrity cameos were probably just excited to be in a Mel Brooks joint and didn’t want to step out of line to challenge anything. I can understand coming into this project with rose colored glasses, but I really think History Of The World: Part II needed some more concept and writing collaboration.
The thing that made Part I so successful was the time it was released, obviously. The ridiculous nature of the writing matched what audiences back then were used to. But in today’s post-Drunk History world, it just feels like there’s less space in the room for Mel Brooks to stand out, when the generations of comedic writing he no doubt influenced, have since far surpassed the jokes that busted guts back in the day.
Maybe you’re reading this and calling me a snob. Maybe you’d say I have crap taste. Maybe both those things are true. But even though I respect the hell out of the comedic groundbreaking Mel Brooks accomplished in his day, and no matter how much you love Spaceballs, I truly think audiences have moved on. If you’re looking for that exact kind of humor, then stream away! But if you were hoping for a little more, maybe skip Part II, and remember Mel for the legend he is.