With far too many drawn-out chats lacking in any wit or humor, Room Service is close to a total Marx Brothers dud. The usual snappy banter and zippy one-liners that normally make their films uproarious (or, at the very least, exceedingly clever) is conspicuously absent here. Adapted from a 1937 play, Room Service stars a young Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy” fame alongside Groucho, Harpo and Chico in the tale of a dirt-poor theater producer butting heads with hotel management trying to evict him. You’d think that the addition of a spunky, soon-to-be star would spice things up even further, but Seiter’s completely uninspired direction and writing renders the cast useless. Duck Soup was so consistently funny because director Leo McCarey allowed the Marx Brothers free rein, throwing the kitchen sink at the screenplay gods and letting it rip. That’s when they’re at their best. The first two/thirds of Sam Wood’s Night at the Opera is much the same—perhaps even zanier—but the final portion feels much stiffer, and suffers as a result. Room Service in its entirety feels like the final 30 minutes of Night at the Opera, but worse, even more scripted and utterly lacking in punch or charm. Only the natural charms of Groucho & co. keep this from getting a bottom-of-the-barrel rating.

35/100