Total disclosure time. I love George Burns. George didn’t just play God, he really was God. He made “The Sunshine Boys” and “Going in Style” minor classics. He was universally acknowledged as the king of straight men and, when it came to underplaying comedy, nobody was even close. There was something ineffably sweet and kindly about the guy. I still miss him.
So, it’s one of the small tragedies of show business history that Burns wasn’t well enough to play his long-awaited 100th birthday show at Cæsar’s Palace. Cinematographer-turned-animator Mark W. Gray’s “Legends of Show Business” imagines what might have happened that fateful Las Vegas night in 1996. Which is not to say that this is some sort of teary-eyed tribute to the late Burns. Nuh-uh. No, this is more in the vein of the “Mecha-Streisand” episode of “South Park. (Another personal favorite.)
I won’t reveal any more because, as the press materials point out, “Legends of Show Business” is more fun if you don’t know what’s coming. Suffice it to say that this Macintosh-animated cartoon has George engaging in some very un-Burns like behavior, and getting into a fairly amusing altercation involving other well-aged show biz icons.
While the basic joke is less than 100% fresh and writer/director/animator’s Mark Gray’s vocal impressions are bland at best, “Legends of Show Business” is an amusing seven minutes. With clever, quickie animation that really evokes Vegas (yet another personal favorite of this reviewer) it’s worth checking out for aficionados of both old-school entertainment and Sin City.
Department Of Inaccuracies that I Don’t Think We’re Meant To Be Jokes: For the record, I must point out to Mr. Gray that Las Vegas is in Clark County, which – unlike most of Nevada – does not have legalized prostitution. Also, Cæsar’s Palace is much too upscale to feature 99-cent shrimp cocktails and 10X odds on craps, though I’d like it better if it did….