My Mom asked me to watch Harold and Maude

So there I am. Minding my own business. Then, out of nowhere, I get a request from my mother. “Watch Harold and Maude,” she says. “It’s one of my favorite movies. I’ll pay you twenty bucks if you do.”

I love my mother. I love twenty bucks. And I love movies. So, that night, as I eat dinner, completely unaware of what I was in for, I put on Harold and Maude.

Turns out, eating tacos during this particular movie was a mistake. Kinda hard to stomach anything when your protagonist is turning black and blue and drooling all over himself while he’s pretending to hang himself.

Hey, Mom, quick question: what the fuck?

Our story focuses on Harold, a young man with a pension for theatric faked suicides and a fondness for funerals. During one such funeral, he meets Maude, a carefree soul with a pension for bizarre art and stealing collecting things. With her help and influence, maybe even Harold can find a way to break free from his overbearing family and live happily and freely.

For anyone looking for a black comedy with a dry sense of humor, this might just be the movie for you. It’s ability to deliver stunning, horrifying, and hilarious jokes with snappy timing is unparalleled. I nearly choked laughing when Harold lit himself on fire. Even it’s more tame humor got a strong chuckle out of me; watching Maude steal a car right in front of the cops as casually as one might walk down to the grocery store was hysterical!

Speaking of whom: our titular characters are both wonderfully fun and compelling! Harold, a young man obsessed with death trapped in an overbearing home, and Maude, an old woman with a zest for life who does whatever she wants. The two make for a great pair and shine as the stars of the film.

It’s through them that the story explores some truly powerful themes. Ideas of life, death, loss, emotional freedom, trauma, loneliness, the effects of neglectful parenthood, you know, fun stuff! But it looks at these things from a more optimistic point of view than a pessimistic one. Better to live every day to the fullest, consequences be damned, than to live a life where you’d rather be dead.

Just… try not to do as much crime as Harold and Maude do. Or do. I don’t care.

Visually speaking, this movie’s got everything I like. That classic 70s vintage look and sound was an automatic win. On top of that, it had creative cinematography, strong special effects (a given, considering Harold’s… hobbies), snappy and interesting editing, and a strong soundtrack. It’s a good looking film.

But the real stars of the show are the performances. Ruth Gordon is a delight as Maude; she steals every single scene she’s in. Bud Cort puts on a great performance as Harold, perfectly balancing his quiet and cold side with bouts of extreme emotion. These two are perfectly cast as their characters and they sell the movie.

Overall, I found myself really loving Harold and Maude. It’s a surprisingly powerful and funny movie well worth watching. If you’re looking for a dark yet uplifting comedy, this is the movie for you.

Though it does raise a question…

Should I be concerned that my mother’s favorite film is all about death and a crazy old lady?

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