British comedian Will Hay is in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings in this comedy,which,although it has some fine moments,is not consistently funny enough to be regarded as anything more than average to middling.It's rather strange that slow-burning American comedian Edgar Kennedy is Hay's main foil in HEY HEY USA!,as is the story being set in the US itself.Gainsborough studios' attempt at recreating a British view of the States is inevitably set-bound,much like the vice-versa attempts by Hollywood in the 30's and 40's,but on a lower budget.The film's quality and credibility suffers as a result,as it would been a better idea to keep the film set in the UK.Hay and Kennedy work reasonably well together and have good chemistry,but the script itself is often saddled with below par comic material.The various British supporting actors cope variably with their transatlantic accents;some are adequate,others are woefully unconvincing.The plot itself is rather overly serious,involving a child kidnapping and gangsters,of which Kennedy is of that ilk.Edgar's familiar comic persona (that of a harassed,frustrated,bad tempered husband in his series of domestic short comedies) means that he doesn't really convince as a brutish gangster intent on murder.
Another interesting member of the support cast is Charlie Hall,the British-born comic actor best known for supporting Laurel and Hardy in nearly fifty of their films.It's welcome to see Hall appear briefly in a film made in his native land;he even manages to share a scene with Kennedy(himself a notable L & H foil in the late 20's) before he departs from the film.Charlie occasionally appeared in support of Edgar in his short films back in the States.
The child involved in the kidnapping(Tommy Bupp)is such a unlikable,ungrateful brat (even his own father doesn't like him in the film!) that everyone really would've been better leaving him that way,but the film also has some doubtful references to Black people which will be scorned upon by contemporary viewers.Hay says the 'n' word in one scene,not particularly in an objectionable context,but still unnecessary,and the final sequence,in which Hay,Bupp,and assorted gangsters get caught up in a Black emancipation rally while covered in soot is possibly the film's only true highlight,though maybe not entirely for the right reasons.With a Negro spiritual ringing in our ears for good measure,the scene is bizarrely memorable in it's strangeness,though could quite easily be interpreted as racist and would be hard to take for many in this day and age.
A Hay vehicle which is nowhere near his best (comic foils like Moore Marriott,Graham Moffat and Charles Hawtrey are sorely missed here),but earns some minor positives for being probably his most unusual,offbeat comedy.
RATING:5 and a half out of 10.