In 1976’s Silver Streak, Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder seemed like a fresh idea in comedy pairings: black vs. white, hipster vs. nerd, funky vs. feckless. Yet their two follow-up films proved how something fresh can suddenly seem canned.
Now rereleased at a lower price (together with 1989’s See No Evil, Hear No Evil), 1980’s Stir Crazy stirs up next to nothing. Wilder and Pryor play two New Yorkers who want out. That’s a reasonable premise, but the execution is laughable for all the wrong reasons: They head West where they stoop to dressing up as woodpeckers, are mistakenly imprisoned for bank robbery, and wonder how to get out of this mess.
In the hapless See No Evil, Hear No Evil, age seems to have undermined both comedians’ strengths: Pryor now seems absolutely out to lunch, and Wilder’s angel-faced innocence is long lost. Pryor is cast as a blind man and Wilder as a deaf man, but both of them must have been senseless to be in this fiasco.
For what it’s worth, the two performers are currently making another movie together, their fourth. Perhaps it will break a streak that has been anything but silver. B-