I apologize for all The Simpsons pictures lately. I'm in that kind of mood, I guess.
Anyways, on to the review portion. Modern Times has always been considered a comedy classic, especially in the slapstick genre that Charlie Chaplin (who wrote, directed, and starred in the film) had found international celebrity with. There are plenty of comedians and comic directors/writers who cite the film as an inspiration. But how does it hold up today?
Incredibly well, actually. The film's narrative is episodic, and the situations that the Little Tramp finds himself in become increasingly absurd as the film progresses, but Chaplin's not really interested in telling a linear story here. Instead, he finds great comedic riches in everyday life in Depression-addled America. We seem him as a factory worker, a prison inmate, a working husband, a night watchman, a waiter, a shipbuilder, and more over the course of 87 minutes. Through it all, Chaplin presents a satirical take on labor unions, factory work, modern technology, drugs, Communist/socialist movements (to which Chaplin was famously sympathetic towards), domestic life, unemployment, prison life, and more. That's a lot of social commentary for a slapstick film, but this is the hallmark of a Chaplin movie. And in today's economic times (though not nearly as bad as they were during the Great Depression), the movie can again speak directly to audiences.
Of course, by the time this film was released cinematic times were changing. Its a silent film released in the age of sound, and its a testament to Chaplin's enduring popularity during the 1930s that the film succeeded. But the film's title couldn't be better: no matter what modern times you're in, this film has relevance. Its the perfect example of a film that is both timely and timeless.