Are cars rolling down hills funny? Are airplanes crashing into buildings funny? If so, why? I ask these questions not to sound snobbish, but because I wonder whether there is something instinctively funny about these kinds of destruction, and if so why this humor is lost on me. Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) is basically a three-hour long car- and airplane-chase peppered with various car crashes, plane crashes, traffic accidents, flat tires, dynamite explosions, blows about the head, and, finally, the piece de resistance, Ethel Merman slipping on a banana peel. I found it to be a spectacularly unfunny film—which is ironic, but perhaps not surprising, because it is so clearly trying to be the funniest film ever made in Hollywood. It’s so proud of its all-star cast of comedians (Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Spencer Tracy, et al., right down to cameos by The Three Stooges and old-school staples of the screwball films like Edward Everett Horton) that it almost screams: “this movie is funny, see!? And you’re gonna laugh…or else!!!” It strikes a feverish pitch about twenty minutes in and somehow stays there for the next two and a half hours, as cars roll down hills and airplanes crash into buildings and Ethel Merman slips on a banana peel. The slipping on the banana peel is so knowingly lame, yet somehow so perfect in its attempt to reach back to the earliest and cheapest of vaudeville-era gags, that it becomes sublime. But there are a lot of very un-sublime cars rolling down hills in the hours before we get to that moment.