STIR CRAZY Monday 16 June, 2014

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Hear No Evil, See No Evil can do one! THIS is the definitive Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder film.

Stir Crazy is a film that I watched repeatedly in my childhood. Looking at it now I wonder what the appeal was. Most of the humour would have been completely lost on me. I suppose that’s the beauty of the film though. It was able to hold my attention as a child and now holds my attention as an adult and has proved to be equally funny in both phases of my life.

I’m always surprised by how few people are actually aware of this film. It seems that most people have Hear No Evil, See No Evil as their go-to point for a Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder film. While I did like that film when I was younger it doesn’t really bear comparison with Stir Crazy.

Stir Crazy sees our two hapless heroes striking out from New York in search of the west coast good life. Along the way they they fall afoul of mistaken identity and find themselves in jail. It’s in this claustrophobic environment that we get to have a really close look at the wonderful chemistry between the two leads. Wilder is excellent as the nauseatingly optimistic and seemingly oblivious, Skip Donahue. It’s his enthusiasm that leads Richard Pryor’s straight guy, Harry Monroe, astray again and again. Normally that would be frustrating but it’s just too darn funny.

There are some incredibly funny moments and it’s all hung together around a reasonably interesting, if typical, plot. Nerdy, trivia fans will also be delighted to note that the film is directed by Sidney Poitier. It’s got a corking soundtrack and it’s a wonder that Cypress Hill weren’t lifting samples left, right and centre. It’s got Jo Beth Williams in it and a them song by Kiki Dee. Okay, they’re probably not all plus points but all of that stuff matters little when compared to just how funny this is. If you’re tiring of all of the modern formulaic comedies then do yourself a favour and track down a copy of Stir Crazy.

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