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Bob Hope's Laughing with the Presidents (1997) 

Week of November 30, 2005

This glorified infomercial for Bob Hope features Tony Danza as its host. He only makes one spaghetti joke (Hey-yo, Angeler!). That should tell you all you need to know about Bob Hope's Laughing with the Presidents, possibly the most excruciating hour of "comedic" history ever committed to celluloid.

Every living commander in chief through Clinton and a few wives and offspring provide "testimonials" concerning Hope's frequent trips to the White House. Also recruited to provide "candid" recollections of Hope's "performances" with every president since FDR are "celebrities" Tom Selleck, Naomi Judd and Don Johnson. What, were George Wendt, Barbara Mandrell and Larry Hagman already committed to the Jerry Lewis retrospective?

All participants are scripted, and their comments are layered over generic elevator music. Of course, they all blow Hope, who appears six years before his death to look and sound exactly like a corpse. Watching the "movie" is like going fifteen rounds with an indefatigable bad joke machine. It exhausts the viewer with lame quip after lame quip after lame quip after lame quip, all of which involve golf, age or the size of people's noses.

But, hey, that's Hope's legacy. Thank God the only specimens suffering through his nonsensical punch lines these days are earthworms and rocks. Let's hope Jay Leno joins him there very soon. — Mike Seely
Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.

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