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Customer Review

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2011
Stir Crazy is directed by Sidney Poitier and written by Bruce Jay Friedman. It stars Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Miguel Angel Suarez, Georg Stanford Brown, JoBeth Williams and Erland Van Lidth. Plot has Pryor and Wilder as two care free New York buddies who after getting fired from their jobs decide to make their way to Hollywood in search of better fortunes. However, after taking up a gig as promotional woodpeckers for a bank's advertisement drive, they find themselves framed for robbing the bank and sentenced to 125 years each in prison.....

The second pairing of Wilder and Pryor proves to be the best of their output on film. With their chemistry skin tight, film is full of laughs until a big slow down for the last third when the inevitable attempt at a prison break out occurs. Poitier's direction isn't up to anything other than correctly letting his two lead stars strut their stuff. But along with writer Friedman, he has to be accountable for letting the comedy dry up as the film chooses tension over humour which undoubtedly doesn't sit at all right. Still, the first hour is a joy ride, particularly once the guys land in prison, here the comedy reaches its peak and the contrast of the two characters played by Wilder and Pryor really mines the set-up for all is worth. Wilder is oblivious to the hazards of prison life, Pryor is street savvy and fully aware of the perils around every brick walled corner.

Naturally there's a hope on the horizon, which here comes in the form of Rodeo skills, this too brings the laughs, as does the number of prison characters that join in the plot. Notably Van Lidth's monstrous, and monstrously funny, Grossberger. Yes it's a roll call of prison stereotypes, from the top where the morally dubious Warden (Barry Corbin) sits, down to the cons where gays, bullies and gate happy loonies reside. With that, some of it now seems twee and badly out of date. So much so it's a film that is unlikely to garner a new and appreciative audience. However, those who were enamoured and found themselves laughing heartily with it back in the early 80s, should find that like myself, it holds up real well. Kind of like an old friend you call on when you need a pick me up. Hardly a superior comedy classic, then, but a film that rewards its fans on each subsequent revisit. 7/10
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