Stir Crazy (1980)

(On Cable TV, April 2018) Gene Wilder was a fantastic comedian, and his presence elevated many of the otherwise unremarkable movies he starred in. Stir Crazy is, on many levels, a rather average film—two down-on-their-luck protagonists being jailed on some spurious charges and working their way out of there. But throw in Wilder and Richard Prior in the lead roles and the film becomes much better than it feels on paper. Never mind the plot and how it ends up with prisoners entering a mechanical bull riding competition (!) when there’s Wilder’s character going in solitary confinement and emerging as serene as a man having come in touch with himself can be. Those moments, far more than the forgettable plot, are what sticks in mind after watching Stir Crazy. There is some similarity in tone here with the original The Longest Yard—kind of an underdogs-and-outlaws-are-cool outlook to unify otherwise very different films. Otherwise, there really isn’t much here to stick in mind, as pleasant as the film can be.

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