Joan Rivers passed away on Thursday, and she left a wealth of clips, documentaries, and interviews that we should all be sorting through this weekend. However, her 1978 directorial debut might be the most interesting rabbit hole to fall into.
Rabbit Test was written and directed by Rivers, and it features Billy Crystal in his first starring role, as a man who ends up pregnant. Yes, this is supposed to be a comedy. As Vulture relates, the film “flopped and was critically reviled,” and from the first few minutes, it’s clear it’s not going to be easy to get through. Roger Ebert’s 1978 review of the film takes a critical scalpel to it:
“There are, no doubt, funny things to be done with a situation in which a man finds himself pregnant. The movie does few of them, because the pregnancy, like everything else, is used only for the most obvious laughs. Situations aren’t explored, characters aren’t developed, timing is ignored, but every 30 seconds there’s a would-be laugh. Because all we’re supposed to do is laugh, the movie is deadening.”
Rivers likely was amused by this takedown, though Vulture presented this clip of Rivers giving Ebert the business over the review nearly a decade later. All the more reason to watch the whole thing on YouTube right now:
Photo via Bob Jagendorf/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)