Mel Brooks’ Life Stinks is a fitfully funny vaudeville caricature about life on Skid Row. Premise of a rich man who chooses to live among the poor for a spell feels sorely undeveloped, and suffers from the usual gross effects and exaggerations.
Pic gets off to a good start with Brooks’ callous billionaire Goddard Bolt informing his circle of yes-men of his plans to build a colossal futuristic development on the site of Los Angeles’ worst slums, the plight of its residents be damned.
Tycoon Jeffrey Tambor bets his rival that he can’t last a month living out in the neighborhood he intends to buy.
In a series of vignettes that play like blackout routines, Bolt, renamed Pepto by a local denizen, tries various survival tactics, such as dancing for donations. After being robbed of his shoes, he encounters baglady Lesley Ann Warren, a wildly gesticulating man-hater who slowly comes to admit Pepto is the only person she can stand.
Some effective bug-eyed, free-wheeling comedy is scattered throughout, much of it descending to the Three Stooges level of sophistication. But distressingly little is done with the vast possibilities offered by the setting and the characters populating it.