The Bobo is another movie in which Peter Sellers' comic gifts lose out to Technicolor. A comedian is not an object to be photographed from all angles like a fancy be-ribboned package. That fact escapes Robert Parrish, the director. Since he can't quite make Sellers a thing of beauty, he places him in a whirl of chi-chi clothes and Spanish opulence, occasionally adding a flamenco dancer. In case Sellers still sticks out as a funny man, Parrish drowns him in Exodus sound.
You can see how little Parrish cares about laughter when you count up his attempts at wit and find that none is original. He opens with a aerial view of an electricity tower rising next to a statue of a Catholic saint--just like the opening of La Dolce Vita where a helicopter swoops over skyscrapers with a piece of saintly statuary roped to its belly. Unfortunately, Parrish steals the shot without understanding it.
A la Playboy, he worships the luxurious paraphenalia of modern life. Fellini spurns it. He thinks it stops a man from using his mind. Since religion doesn't explain modern man's existence satisfactorily, he needs a new explanation. But instead of struggling toward it, he collapses into a coma. Society caters to the comatose state with push buttons, sunglasses, cars that ride without jolting you, and a vacant-eyed model as the symbol of womanhood. Parrish should think twice before shoplifting from the enemy camp.
Most of the time, though, he steals from Colgate-smile comedies. His sexy red bed--television, music, and massage at the flick of a switch--comes straight out of The Yum Yum Tree. In both movies, Jack Lemmon and Sellers play second banana to mechanical gadgets.
Sellers, the Melancholy Matador, sometimes gets a laugh. But after he loses the girl, he bumps gracelessly from parody into pathos. Sellers just doesn't belong to the Chaplin tradition. He's a fraudulent character like Groucho Marx, who brings a leer into every tearjerker moment. When the trickster look falls off Sellers' face, he's cooked.
Britt Ekland is a bland Julie Christie. At least Miss Christie is slightly knockneed and her eyes don't water at the sight of a chipmunk. I suppose Miss Ekland--along with automobiles and orgy rooms equipped with Louis Quinze furnishings and electric gimmicks--excites somebody. There on-screen is the fulfillment of somebody's fantasies.