Plot: Bud and Lou are fresh out of detective school, though Lou was a slow learner and a bribe was needed to ensure his graduation. While the two are still wet behind the ears in the business, they’re thrown into the deep end when their first case walks into the office and happens to involve a murder. Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz) is a prizefighter and is wanted in connection to the death of his manager, but he swears he is innocent and just needs time to clear his name. So he brings in Bud and Lou to assist him, but the two weren’t prepared to investigate a murder, let alone one where the suspect drinks a serum that turns him invisible. Soon Lou has to pose as a boxer on the rise, with help from his invisible client, who punches up anyone who tries to oppose him. But can Lou survive a fight against one of the best boxers in the world, all while trying to help Tommy prove his innocence?
Entertainment Value: As you’d expect given the presence of Abbott and Costello, this movie is pure slapstick and while the total absence of horror elements might seem odd, it makes sense given that most of the Invisible Man movies weren’t all that driven by horror in the first place. This movie leans more on gangster movie tropes than anything else, as our two hapless leads find themselves involved in the mob run world of boxing and deep in a murder case. So if your interest is driven by the Invisible Man, you might not be too bowled over, as aside from the presence of the serum, little ties this in with the other movies. The pace here is fine, as the jokes roll at a consistent pace and at under 90 minutes, the movie doesn’t seem drawn out or overly padded. There’s no tension or sense of stakes, as the serum has no side effects and that allows the focus to be on the humor above all else.
As the movie is more about Abbott and Costello than the Invisible Man, how you feel about the duo is likely to reflect your feelings about the film in general. The two are front and center throughout the movie, with the invisible person in a smaller, comic relief role, so their style is what drives the picture. I am not a huge fan of the two, but here the humor is so broad and over the top, it goes from groans to unintentional comedy at times, which I appreciated. But those “so bad, they’re good” moments aren’t all that frequent, so unless you have a genuine appreciation for Abbott and Costello, you’ll look at your watch often here. Arthur Franz is fun as the invisible boxer and his interactions with the leads are bright spots, but sadly, he is pushed aside often to allow the more signature spots. In the end, this one is likely to leave monster fans cold, while those who have a taste for old school slapstick or Abbott and Costello’s routines should have a decent time.