DIE LAUGHING (director: Jeff Werner; screenwriter: story by Scott Parker/ Scott Parker/Jerry Segal/Robby Benson; cinematographer: David Myers; editor: Neil Travis ; music: Craig Safan; cast:  Robby Benson (Pinsky), Burt Cort (Mueller), Elsa Lanchester (Sophie), Charles Durning (Arnold), Sammuel Krachmalnick (Zhukov), Peter Coyote (Davis), Linda Grovenor (Amy), Rita Taggart (Thelma), Larry Hankin (Bock); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Mark Canton/Robby Benson; Warner; 1980)

"The viewer might die watching the movie, but it won't be from laughing."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jeff Werner ("Mario's Story"/"Kicking It"/"Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend") directs this awkward sophomoric black comedy misfire. The weak story is by Scott Parker. The scattered screenplay is by Robby Benson, Jerry Segal and Parker.

Robby Benson is the San Francisco cabbie wrongly accused of assassinating a famed nuclear scientist, who made a dirty bomb. It turns out the dead scientist's chimpanzee is a stowaway in his cab and the chimp is the only creature who knows his master's secret nuclear formula. Meanwhile the cabbie must dodge the police and two dangerous Russian spies.

Burt Cort is dreadful as the oily foreign villain. Robby Benson is just bad as the hero. This is the wonderful Elsa Lanchester's last movie.

The viewer might die watching the movie, but it won't be from laughing.  The witless film stumbles as it tries to revisit Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935).

REVIEWED ON 4/23/2016       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"