To make a long story short . . .
Revisited this movie a good ten to fifteen years after first seeing it. My memory was that it was entertaining but just a bit overly silly. That basically holds true, except that the silliness was rarely so over the top as to be annoying. It’s a sort of delirious fever dream, kind of like if you had eaten a whole pizza, smoked some weed, read three Agatha Christie novels and then gone to bed. But it really does work most of the time, in large part because it’s just so gleeful in its silliness that you really can’t act superior to it. The cast is, of course, perfect and the movie takes time to give them all at least a couple of moments to really shine, though it’s clearly Tim Curry who steals the movie in the climactic re-enactment of all the crimes. But it’s clear that the cast is having a great time and who can blame them? Seriously, this set must have been one of the most fun shooting sets in history. The film also embraces the format of a farce, and how could it not with so many rooms and so many characters built into the concept? And it really nails it. A movie like this is all about the timing and I think the movie succeeds in a big way in some great sequences. The singing telegram gag is perhaps the highlight of the film, mostly because of the perfection of the comic beats. I mean, it’s nothing short of brilliant, the way the telegram girl pauses for a split second and then in a perfect three beat gag, it’s just BANG FALL SLAM. These are just joyous moments and the film is full of them. At the end of the day, I ended up liking this more than the first time I watched it and finding the silliness, which is certainly very highly pitched, to be just exuberant and kind of endearing as opposed to being annoying or grating. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – exuberantly silly farce benefits from great cast and pitch perfect timing; occasionally too silly, but generally silly in exactly the right quantity. 3 ½ stars.