After the success of 'Road To Singapore' a sequel was a given, and Zanzibar was to be the next port of call as well as an improvement on the last road trip.This time round Bob Hope is 'Fearless' Frazier and Bing Crosby is Chuck, a couple of conmen working in Africa as various attractions such as the human cannonball and an octopus wrestler. They are forced to flee however as they are found out and on their escape hook up with slave girl Dorothy Lamour and seek out a lost diamond mine.
'Road to Singapore' was the debut 'Road' film and a highly accomplished comedy, but 'Road to Zanzibar' is where they're starting to refine the formula and really let the chemistry of the two leads dominate. So the homoeroticism of 'Singapore' is gone and instead you have their roles clearly defined with Hope as the cowardly and narcissistic fall guy and Crosby as the (surprisingly sleazy) ladies man. The two are clearly having a ball with the material here as their banter has become much more biting and snappy, with one-liners flung about with casual abandon. Hope in particular shows just what a true comic talent he was, with the rare knack of making any one-liner or carefully scripted witticism sound naturalistic, without over-selling it.
The script is much punchier this time round and consistently funny with only a dreary romantic interlude around the fifty minute mark dragging down the pace. But even then, the charm of Hope and Crosby makes it constantly watchable as well as taking the edge off some of the inherent racism here (all black characters are either slaves or savages). So as uncomfortable as it is to see a lounging Bing Crosby being carried around by black slaves, the script and sparks from the two stars always distract us from it.
And the script is damn funny, whilst also being daring for the time. So the first film is referenced as a film (you'll understand when you see it) and those sick of the 'white-man-talking-in-black-lingo' joke, will be very pleased to see the opposite here. Director Schertzinger deserves a lot of credit for not only giving us Hope and Crosby at their best but for laying off the set-pieces and just letting the cracking dialogue drive the film, while playing with the form of comedy and giving us something new and surprising.It's always a worry that a review can never do a comedy, in particular, justice. After all, apart from telling people how funny it is, what can you do? Reprint the dialogue? I'm not going to spoil that fun for everyone, so you're just going to have to trust me when I say that it's funny. Like, REALLY, funny in the way that Martin Lawrence is REALLY NOT funny.