Stir Crazy (1980)

Sidney Poitier directs Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor and JoBeth Williams in this crime comedy where two tenderfoot theatre nerds find themselves in a state penitentiary for a bank robbery they didn’t commit.

The lucrative alliance of Pryor and Wilder is one of the best things to happen to blockbuster comedy. They had cracking chemistry, matching each other onscreen in commitment and love-ability. Just seeing them paired on a quad poster together promises great things, big yucks. Shame that they never actually found a project that took this concrete foundation as a starting block to build up to greatness rather than a fallback to deliver a so-so product. Stir Crazy, like any and all of their packages, is unfocused and often unfunny. The script lacks jokes, the plot is all over the shop… Hell, the movie gives up on the prison setting 10 minutes after they arrive and impatiently sets it sights on moving the whole cast off to a rodeo finale. We have a late in the day romantic interest shoehorned in long, long after we haven’t noticed the lack of such a device. And as for the resolution… I’m pretty certain even most Hollywood comedies’ version of the how the real world works doesn’t tally with the swiftly achieved “happy ending”. But you do get street wise Pryor and bundle of neuroses Wilder larking about. Even when the lines and the situation fail them, they are magic. In an alternative universe that value would be mined for a series of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ classics rather than a handful of now slightly baffling box office smashes.

7

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