Theatrical Release: December 21, 1979
Blu Ray Release: January 10, 2017
Director: Michael Schultz
Review by Vidal Granandos
Scavenger Hunt is a quirky comedy from 1979, which has plenty of slapstick humor, fun cameos and laughs to keep you engaged throughout the entire hunt.
Scavenger Hunt begins with Vincent Price playing millionaire game inventor Milton Parker (a play on the name of Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers) dies from a heart attack after playing one of his own games with his sexy nurse. After Parker’s funeral, his remaining family members and workers gather at his mansion to hear about his will. First to arrive is his money hungry sister Mildred (Cloris Leachman), her buffoon son Georgie (Richard Masur) and her sleazy lawyer Stuart (Richard Benjamin). One by one more people arrive ranging from distance nieces and nephews, a son in law and his four kids, Parker’s butler, driver, maid and chef to even a cab driver Parker paid to kill his business partner (Richard Mulligan). Though Mildred and her lawyer seem to be the main “villains” of the story, everyone selfishly waits to hear what he or she may inherit. However, Parker has one last game up his sleeve. He had decided to place in his will an epic, grand-scale scavenger hunt. The first person or team to find the most items on his list wins his $200 million dollar fortune.
The race is on for each team to try to find as many items as possible and return them to his mansion for points before 5 o’clock. Items range from finding the fattest person to toilet seats to getting an ostrich. How they get said items is up to the creativity to the individuals. Along the way there are wacky mishaps. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meat Loaf and others make brief appearances throughout the film. Each cameo appearance has a funny interaction with the scavenger hunters. I always enjoy seeing actors in smaller roles before they were huge stars.
The film is an enjoyable ride the entire time. The picture quality has been updated and it looks great while still keeping a classic vintage look. While some characters have more screen time than others, everyone has genuine funny moments. Some jokes do fall flat or are cheesy due to overacting. Scavenger Hunt is a very goofy movie that doesn’t take itself or human mortality seriously. There are times when someone gets run over or fall out of a two story window but are still able to walk away. Some jokes and stereotypes are out dated, like a Native American throwing tomahawks and putting his ear to the ground to track someone. Or an angry Japanese guy pulling out a samurai sword out of his car. Outdated stereotypes aside, the style of comedy for the majority of the film are in good taste. There are some really good slapstick moments during the movie. Richard Benjamin and Richard Masur have some of the best chemistry playing Cloris Leachman’s lawyer and her childish son Georgie. They’re the Tom and Jerry of this movie, with Masur usually getting the better of Benjamin. While Masur’s dimwitted character Georgie can sometimes come off as annoying, Benjamin is always there to be Masur punch line. The lawyer Stuart tries to be professional throughout the scavenger hunt, but he quickly dissolves into madness from Mildred’s constant bickering and Georgie’s stupidity. While everyone does a great job in their role and gets laughs, Richard Mulligan deserves special recognition for his role as cab driver Marvin. His physical comedy and costume changes are the some of the most hilarious parts in the film.
* Audio commentary by director Michael Schultz
* Interview with star Richard Benjamin
* Interview with actor Richard Masur
As I said before, Richard Benjamin and Richard Masur have some of the best chemistry and have the most amount of screen time so it’s only fitting that they both get bonus interviews. Both actors discuss their careers before Scavenger Hunt and how they got involved with the film. Both men say how open director Schultz was to the cast’s ideas and improvisations. They are separate interviews but both actors talk about their admiration for one another, as they felt comfortable with each others sense of comedic timing.
Scavenger Hunt is a fun film. There are plenty of funny moments that easily make this a treat to watch. They are a few times were I genuinely laughed out loud on just how silly characters were. My only real problem is that it feels like there are too many characters. Some get overlooked or not given enough screen time for character development. Sometimes groups are missing for 20 minutes only for them to have a quick scene to remind the audiences that they are in the film. Though some jokes fall flat, that’s to be expected when punch line after punch line is being thrown out in rapid session. However the jokes are light heart and nothing too vulgar or mean spirited ever really happens. I’m not sure if Scavenger Hunt deserves multiple viewings. How many times can you hear the same jokes before it’s not funny? However if you are in the mood for some cheesy laughs and slapstick comedy, I recommend giving Scavenger Hunt a look.