Thursday, April 15, 2010

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

"Today I threatened to shoot a naked woman with my erection."

Ever wondered what might occur if a blind man and a deaf man were partial witnesses to a murder and were subsequently swept up in the investigation, tagged as suspects, and then acted as vigilantes attempting to clear their own names? I give you 1989's See No Evil, Hear No Evil. This movie stars the nearly unstoppable (and quintessential 80's dynamic duo) team of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. Apart they are comedic geniuses, separate they are comedic gods.

With all honesty, it is the acting of this solid duo that saves this rather lackluster film: The plot is a little meandering, and begs the audience to make a lot of allowances for the two leads; the script, if removed from the performance context, is rather trite and borderline handicap-advocacy. All of that aside, the film does raise some interesting questions about the portrayal of handicaps on screen and our reaction to them.

I truly felt that Wilder, in particular, went to great lengths to create and simulate the accuracies of being deaf, with Pryor taking a more comedic blind route. But the script asks us to view the men both as stereotyped but also very humanized. At moments in the film the two men, taking considerable time out of their crime-escaping endeavors, sit and talk to one another. What the audience is privy to are one, some beautiful acting, and two some very heartfelt dialogue that truly paints a unique picture of the two men, of two handicaps. But it also seems that the writers want us to view them as bumbling fools at times, that their handicaps have turned them into idiots and then in the next they are total geniuses as they outwit cops, hotel maids, and hardened criminals.

Ultimately, I found the script a little unbalanced and lacked finesse in the creation of the characters. But this film is more about the slapstick and the comedy and in those two arenas it excels to an immense degree. Oddly enough, Pryor's character Wally espouses an interesting moral philosophy, which is summed up in the phrase, "Fuck it." Much of the journey of the piece, for the two characters (part of the script which is solid) is their learning when to say, "fuck it," and throw their handicap to the winds and when saying "fuck it," may be less than appropriate.

This is a great scene from the film, where the two men are interrogated. You don't get comedy like this outside of the 80's:

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