Stir Crazy (1980)
Directed by Sidney Poitier
Starring: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor
In 1980, The Empire Strikes Back and Nine to Five were one and two in the box office. Grossing over 100 million dollars, Stir Crazy came in at a very respectable third. This film is the sixth one directed by Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier. The movie stars two of America’s great comedians, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. This is one of several films the two would work on together.
Skip (Wilder) and Harry (Pryor) have been mistakenly charged with a bank robbery after a streak of bad luck puts them in the middle of the action. After a quick trial, the pair finds themselves in prison. Now they need to find ways to fit in and survive with the hardened criminals around them. Things get more interesting when Skip is discovered to have a great talent for bull-riding. With the prison rodeo coming, the two look for a way to escape.
This is a hilarious film, brought together by two great actors. Wilder and Pryor are great on their own, and bringing them together is a recipe for great comedy. It’s hard to imagine that Poitier had much to direct with the two talents in front of the camera. The chemistry adds to a very natural feel in the dialogue between the two, as well as the chemistry they have with the rest of the cast. Watching the two as they try to be tough in their new home is hilarious.
The writing for this movie is also great. The screenplay was written by Bruce Jay Friedman who was nominated for an Oscar in 1985 for Splash. He was also involved in writing The Heartbreak Kid alongside Neil Simon. This story is goofy, but it still feels very intelligently written. It’s one more strength in this awesome movie.
This isn’t a complex story, and the simplicity allows the actors to shine throughout the movie. If you’re a fan of these actors, I hope you’ll take the time to see this one. The movie is fun, but it’s also a movie for an adult audience. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.