Stir Crazy

1980

Stir Crazy

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

67%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 15

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 19,992
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Movie Info

After the excellent audience response to their teaming in Silver Streak, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor reunited for this zany comedy. Wilder and Pryor play a couple of out-of-work numbskulls who take a promotional job that requires them to dress up like gigantic woodpeckers. Unfortunately, a pair of thieves, likewise decked out in woodpecker suits, pull off a bank job not long after Wilder and Pryor make their first public appearance. The boys are arrested and sentenced to 120 years each (at this point, we know we're not dealing with real life). After a concerted (and hilarious) effort to make the best of things "in stir," Wilder and Pryor break out of jail, hoping to track down the genuine thieves. The mess never really works itself out, suggesting that perhaps the stars had a Stir Crazy II lurking in the recesses of their minds. Written by Bruce Jay Friedman and directed by Sidney Poitier, it never did spawn a sequel, though a TV series spin-off, starring Larry Riley and Joseph Guzaldo, briefly surfaced in 1986.

Cast

Gene Wilder
as Skip Donahue
Richard Pryor
as Harry Monroe
Georg Stanford Brown
as Rory Schultebrand
Craig T. Nelson
as Deputy Ward Wilson
Barry Corbin
as Warden Walter Beatty
Nicolas Coster
as Warden Henry Sampson
Joel Brooks
as Len Garber
Jonathan Banks
as Jack Graham
Erland van Lidth
as Grossberger
Karmin Murcelo
as Theresa Ramirez
Franklyn Ajaye
as Young Man in Hospital
Estelle Omens
as Mrs. R.H. Broache
Pamela Poitier
as Cook's Helper
Alvin Ing
as Korean Doctor
Joseph Massengale
as Ceasar Geronimo
Peter Looney
as Kicker #1
Doug Johnson
as Guard #2
Miguel Ángel Suárez
as Jesus Ramirez
Rod McCary
as Minister
Bill Bailey
as Announcer
Danna Hansen
as Mrs. Sampson
Gwen Van Dam
as Mrs. Beatty
Herb Armstrong
as County Jail Guard
Herbert Hirschman
as Man at Dinner Party
Don Circle
as Bank Teller
Mickey Jones
as Guard #8
Essex Smith
as Blade's Friend
Grand L. Bush
as Big Mean's Sidekick
James Oscar Lee
as Kicker #2
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Critic Reviews for Stir Crazy

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Stir Crazy

  • Oct 19, 2018
    There is a nugget of absolute gold in this film, and that's when Wilder's character is asked by his lawyers how he's been getting along in prison. He's an eternal optimist and so we sense just how difficult it is when he replies wistfully "Swell! Just swell. A few ups and downs. You know, people see movies about prison life, but until you've actually spent a little time here, it's hard to get the real flavor of what it's like. I think more Americans should spend a little time behind bars, so they would understand that." He says this with just the perfect touch; he's not dramatic or preachy, and the light tone of the movie doesn't waver in the slightest, but there is such depth to this subtle criticism of how prison is viewed, and the movement which was growing in America to be 'tough on crime'. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor are a fantastic comedy team, and in this film director Sidney Poitier also blends in a little prison escape drama as well. There are plenty of funny moments, and it's held up reasonably well over time. Some examples: Pryor showing Wilder how to walk and 'be bad' when they enter prison. Wilder's resilience under tough treatment from the guards, e.g. emerging from five days in a box and asking for just one more day, because "I was just beginning to get into myself." The scene where the mass murderer, an intimidating and very large criminal named Grossberger (Erland Van Lidth De Jeude), is put into Pryor and Wilder's cell. Pryor has a more subdued role in the film, but he makes the most out of every moment, and his facial reactions and little comments all add up to a fine performance. The film also has quite a heart; Wilder's character believes that everything can be solved by just talking to people and in understanding them, and sometimes he's very wrong about that, but we soon see Grossberger playing cards with them and then later singing a lovely version of "Down in the Valley." Throughout the movie, there is such humanity in how Wilder treats people with respect, even if he is off-base and hilariously naïve a lot of the time. There are plenty of flaws here; gags that fall flat, stereotypical characters, gratuitous nudity, and a bit of a silly ending - but Wilder and Pryor are strong enough for me, and the film has its heart in the right place.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2014
    This is a very funny movie that, unfortunately, loses some of its steam in the last half hour or so. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor make a great team, as they have great chemistry together and I think they bring out the best in each other. But, and this applies more to Richard Pryor than it does for Gene, but you can tell that he's pretty much being held back by the script's limitations. Richard Pryor was one of the funniest comedians who ever lived, and while he's really funny here, you don't get a sense of that. Not that I was expecting him to do his stand-up routine in the film, as it really wouldn't make a lot of sense given the context of the film. But the restraints should've been cut off and he should've been given some freedom to Pryor-tize the film and give it a raunchier edge. The film is rated R, but only because of language and even then it's not like it's the GoodFellas of comedy films, they're not cursing from beginning to end. As mentioned, I did find the film to be very funny once Harry and Skip go into prison. Seeing how Skip, someone who looks at the world through rose colored eyes, he's someone that's completely unaware of the reality of prison life that's staring him right in the face. It's funny seeing how he tries to use conversation and understanding to get his point across. It's not comedy gold, but it is quite funny. And it helps that Gene Wilder is so immensely likable. Richard Pryor is also very funny in his delivery and facial expressions but, as I mentioned, it feels like he's being held back. Still, he and Gene make an excellent team and they definitely get a lot of laughs. Unfortunately though, just before the actual "prison" break starts, which is about 80 minutes into the film, and you still have 30 or so more minutes to go, the film really loses a lot. While it's still funny, it really isn't as funny as everything that came before it. Perhaps that's to let the prison break stand out as a highlight, but it didn't work, at least in my opinion. It just dragged the whole movie down to a 3 star rating instead of a 3.5 rating. And that's not even mentioning all the implications of the actual escape. They leave a lot of unanswered questions, perhaps because they had a sequel in mind, but there's still a lot of questions and legal ramifications of what they did, even if they were innocent. Still, this ending isn't meant to create thought-provoking debates or anything of the sort, but there's still some unanswered questions. Regardless, this is a fun film that probably didn't age very well with time. It's still a solid film thanks to Gene Wilder's and Richard Pryor's easy chemistry with each other.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 05, 2014
    Harry Monroe: A hundred and twenty five years... Oh God... Oh God... I'll be a hundred and sixty-one when I get out. "Two jailbirds who just want out of the cage." I've always passed on watching Stir Crazy because a pairing of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder didn't sound too great to me, but after thinking about it I thought it could be fun. I like Richard Pryor as a comedian a lot and Gene Wilder is a very good, over the top comedic actor. Although Stir Crazy is the duos second project, it's the only one I've seen and I have to say, it was a fun ride.  Skip and Harry are both fired from their jobs in New York on the same day, so they decide to head west to California to try to make it in Hollywood. They don't make it that far though when they stop in a town that Skip's really likes. When they are mistaken for two bank robbers, they are sentenced to 125 years in a maximum security prison. There may be a way out though and it relies on Skip's rodeo skills. Stir Crazy is nothing to get too excited about, but overall it's a pleasant and funny comedy. I liked both Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in it, both of whom looked like they were have a good time. Stir Crazy's worth a watch if you're into the two actors.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 02, 2012
    Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor get wild and crazy in the screwball comedy Stir Crazy. The story follows two New Yorkers that leave the city looking for new opportunities, but end up in the Arizona State Penitentiary framed for a crime that they didn't commit. Wilder and Pryor are in great form and bring the comedy. However, the plot is rather weak, with some odd tangents that detract from the overall story. Yet, you'd have to be crazy not to enjoy Stir Crazy; it's a lot of fun and is full of laughs.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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