This film is a funny comedy and broad satire of the day. It pokes fun at three major areas of society. First, is the "rate race" of living in the congestion of the Big Apple. Second, is the hippie or yuppie drop-out culture of the late 60s. And, third, is government and the local politics of the big city. "What's So Bad About Feeling Good" has the clear message that the assumed "happiness" of the first two situations is false. The one is masked by anxiety, anger, impatience, fear, and hurry. The second is masked by drugs, depression, self-centeredness and lack of any drive or sense of responsibility.
A toucan (Amigo) out of nowhere interrupts the cultural scene of the Big Apple by some strange infectious air that restores a sense of life, kindness, charity, drive and true happiness. People begin to smile and laugh. The hippies shave their beards and get jobs. But, there's a downside - at least in the eyes of the local government. As the health of people improves, cigarette and liquor sales decline and with that - the city's tax revenues.
It's a nice idea for a plot and it works well with this story in which all the cast give very good performances. This doesn't rank up there with the great comedy satires, but it is a very good one and spoofing of the American urban culture of the 1960s and 1970s. The film has some very funny scenarios, with the fantasy dialog from the bird that some of the characters are able to understand.
George Peppard as Peter, Mary Tyle Moore and Liz, Dom DeLuise as J. Garner Monroe and John McMartin as The Mayor are particularly good in their roles.
Here are some favorite lines from the film.
Barney, "Unlike you, we only use first names We believe that last names are superfluous. Because when the world is destroyed, our first names will be our last names."
Park Commissioner Williams, "Gentlemen, as you all know, we desperately need more parks in Lower Manhattan. Well, I've finally come upon the perfect solution. We tear down the New York Stock Exchange and the Treasury Building across the street, and use that space for a beautiful playground. We can condemn that property for very little. It's cost the city less than $6 million an acre." The Mayor, "We'll continue this discussion in the fallout shelter." Williams, "There'll be plenty of rom for the kiddies to play baseball and football and hopscotch, jacks. There's be jungle gyms and slides and swings, see-saws, chess boards for the senior citizens...."
Phil, "It's not just the sales tax that worries me, but suppose some of us gets it and starts making irrational decisions."
Lou Bolton, "And gentlemen, the more I've thought about Pete's idea, the better I like it. Honesty in advertising - what a fresh idea. Just great, Pete. To show our appreciation, here's a bonus for you."
T.V. Newscaster (Martin O'Hara, uncredited), "The latest figures show that marriage licenses are running 912% above average. Also, in the last 24 hours, only one application for divorce has been granted. And 75% of all pending lawsuits have been settled out of court."
J. Gardner Monroe, "Can't you do anything without that bird? I mean, they didn't need the original mosquito to cure malaria." Dr. Shapiro, "Well, they didn't need an infected brain." Monroe, "Well, grab a stiff from the morgue. Must be somebody there who died laughing."
J. Gardner Monroe, "When was the last time you were in Cuba, Mr. Jackson?" Pete, "Cuba?" Monroe, "Oh, come on. We ran check on you and your gang. One of them had a beard just like Castro and they all had some kind of a beard. How do you explain that?" Peter, "We didn't shave."
J. Gardner Monroe, "What are you, a listening Tom?"
J. Gardner Monroe, "I wanna come back and see a normal couple screaming and yelling at each other - check?"