Monday, January 16, 2012

See No Evil, Hear No Evil: The Dynamic Duo Do It Again (Or Richard Pryor. Gene Wilder. Nuff said.)

Every so often a comedian is able to rise to the occasion and transcend their unordinary calling to simply make others laugh and entertain. These comedians are capable of holding up a mirror to society's reflection, and by poking fun at society, are able to generate great and true societal change. The film See No Evil, Hear No Evil has two such comedians in the starring roles: Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

One is hilarious....The other is...also hilarious. Together they are...hysterical.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil was a film done in 1989. Spanning a fifteen year time period from 1976 to 1991,  See No Evil, Hear No Evil was the third film out of four that Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder did as a comedic duo. Interesting to note is that, at the time, TriStar pictures was looking to produce another Pryor-Wilder film, but Wilder said he would only do the film if he were personally allowed to rewrite the script. TriStar reluctantly agreed, and on May 15, 1989, the film opened to--le gasp--mostly negative reviews. While most critics of the film agreed that Wilder, Pryor, and Kevin Spacey (in a supporting role) all gave fine performances, the script itself was lackluster and many of the gags were considered to be tried and juvenile. Now, I don't know what film those guys were watching because from where I'm sitting, this film is a comedic gold mine--and apparently people agree with me because the film held the #1 spot when it came out for the first two weeks (Source). And you can see why by taking a look at these clips.

The film's plot is simple enough to follow, too: A man is murdered at a newsstand shop in the middle of the day. Two men happen to witness it. Kind of. A blind man, Wally Karue (Pryor), hears the killer's shots, and a deaf man, Dave Lyons (Wilder), sees the killer walking away after pulling the trigger. Soon after the police come across the pair at the scene of the crime and do their best from what they're given to get to the bottom of it, but even they don't think Wally and Dave are credible witnesses. But the killers, (played by Kevin Spacey, Joan Severance, and Anthony Zerbe respectively)  don't want to take any chances. The two men must now work together, handicapped and impaired though they are, to save themselves and bring the killers to justice. 

One's deaf. One's blind. Can you guess which one is driving? What could possibly go wrong?!
And now, of course, the moment you've all been waiting for. To the breakdown!

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: Okay, now here's a ridiculous film if I ever saw one. The premise is as farfetched as the characters themselves. A blind man and a deaf guy are friends? Okay, I can buy that. Continue. A blind man and a deaf guy are witnesses to a murder? Um, okay, now you're starting to stretch things a bit, but hey, I can dig it. A blind man and a deaf guy travel all over the state of New York in search of the killers that framed them? Yeah. That's ridiculous. 3/5 Stars
  • Classiness: I have always loved Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor because no matter what they do, always manage to remain true to themselves. There's a genuineness and obvious sense of style that just seeps out from their private personality into the characters they inhabit. This is no different. It's like getting a look at what Pryor and Wilder would have been like if they'd been blind and deaf, respectively, yet managed to remain hilarious. And that's classy. 3.5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: Alright. This can be a pretty cheesy film at times. It's gags are most definitely tried and true and some jokes hit while others miss. Sometimes the characters can be right on point, and other times they're just so over the top and overdone you're just like, "Ehh...really?" Then there's the Captain of Police. What a dumb character. He ends the movie lamenting the fact he couldn't shoot either of the protagonists. What kind of police officer wants to shoot a deaf guy and a blind guy, let alone a police captain? 2/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: This film is funny. Very funny. At least at times. It's essentially a blind man and a deaf guy being smart, clever, and doing slapstick. Which they do very well sometimes, and other times, not so much. Still. Here's an example of what to expect in See No Evil, Hear No Evil.  2.5/5 Stars

  • Awesomeness: a Somewhat Awesome film. It's actually a terrible shame that with an average of 2.75 Stars, a film like Hear No Evil, See No Evil isn't better. It had all the makings of being something Awesome or even Totally Awesome. But alas somethings just fall apart at the seams and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Oh well. That's okay. Not all of'em can be home runs. Sometimes you've just gotta settle for the walk.

    Wundebar, meine kinder. See No Evil, Hear No Evil. It's a helluva flick, and I'd say give it a viewing if you're in the mood for Richard Pryor or Gene Wilder. Can never go wrong with those two. Clearly. And thus concludes our breakdown of a good-almost-great Pryor/Wilder duo flick. Thanks for tuning in and I'll seeya next time film fans.

    - Duke

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