'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' not only brings Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder together for a third feature film outing, but also reunites the dynamic chemistry of the duo with 'Silver Streak' director Arthur Hiller. Sadly, the movie doesn't match the hilarity of their first teaming, or even come close to the insightful laughs of 'Stir Crazy.' Featuring a terribly generic plot revolving around a murder mystery, this third pairing is an all-too obvious cash-grab with little to make it truly memorable.
In spite of its weaknesses, however, it has grown over the years into a cult comedy with several chuckles sprinkled throughout and at least offers an amusing diversion for a boring Sunday afternoon. Then again, there are better things to do or watch for wasting away a couple of hours. Namely, Wilder and Pryor's previous two efforts, which come across as more original and imaginative. 'No Evil' almost seems as if it lightly borrows elements from the other two and hopes we won't notice.
From a script that required six writers, one of which was Wilder, the story is simply there to give reason enough to see Pryor pretend to be blind and Wilder act as if he's deaf. The chemistry and timing between them remains unchanged however and is ultimately the real highlight of the film. Their camaraderie is believable and undeniable with an energetic banter that sometimes carries a sly cynicism. Wilder's Dave Lyons barks at his partner's constant profanity while Pryor's Wally snaps back at his partner's high-strung personality.
After being falsely accused of murdering Wally's loan shark, implausibility is taken to the extreme as the two men go on the run. While trying to clear their names and solve the mystery involving a rare gold coin, a pseudo road movie ensues, with police always conveniently one step behind. Much of the humor — if not all of it — comes from watching Pryor and Wilder work together, one compensating for the other's impairment. It's in these moments, like the bar fight or the two driving a police squad car, that we see the pair make the most of the material and probably aware the movie's meant only to showcase their talents.
Other than New York's finest pursuing them, lead by a sometimes comical Alan North, the often blundering pair is also hunted by the voluptuous and gorgeous Joan Severance, who Wilder describes as a great pair of legs while Pryor takes note of her wonderful perfume. Her partner is a young Kevin Spacey with a bad British accent. Like the movie's star attraction, their pairing is essentially a reprisal of their roles on TV's 'Wiseguy,' where they play a sibling crime team. Much like the plot, unfortunately, their presence serves little beyond moving the story forward and stepping aside for Wilder and Pryor to their stuff.
'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' is really one situational physical gag after another, each leading to the next until we reach the inevitable happy conclusion. Both men are giving ample to shine in front of the camera, and they are pretty funny moments. Richard Pryor impersonates a Swedish gynecologist to a room full of doctors, and Gene Wilder pretends to have a gun poking through his pants in front of a naked Joan Severance. But a few comedic sequences are not enough to completely salvage a murder mystery that started with a conversation over antacid pills.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment releases 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 inside a blue eco-vortex keepcase. There are no trailers at startup, going straight to the main menu with music and full-motion clips.
'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' stumbles its way unto Blu-ray with a surprisingly strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Aside from one or two scenes with slightly less than perfect resolution, the picture displays excellent definition of fine lines on clothing, hair and surrounding foliage. With a sharp, crisp contrast level that's terrifically stable from beginning to end, the transfer is comfortably bright and sparkles like a fresh remaster should, revealing the smallest details on far-distant buildings. Blacks are also true and deep, from Joan Severance's ebony hair to the few dark shadows that keep good delineation of background info. A very thin layer of grain is perceptible and consistent, giving the image an attractive cinematic quality. Colors benefit the most with superbly clean rendering, especially primaries, and provide healthy skin tones of the cast.
This 1989 comedy also arrives with a very good uncompressed PCM stereo soundtrack, delivering a wide and very well-balanced image with a surprisingly good amount of activity. Whether the duo is sitting at a park bench or running for their lives, subtle atmospherics fill the soundstage and give the film a nice welcoming presence that's quite engaging. Movement between channels is smooth and convincing while the mid-range provides great detailing of the upper frequencies and maintains excellent clarity throughout. Dialogue reproduction is clean and precise in the center, so listeners hear every silly joke and gag without difficulty. The lossless mix doesn't offer much in terms of low bass, but the track adds the appropriate weight to certain action sequences, making it a fun listen nonetheless.
This a bare-bones Blu-ray release.
'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' is the third comedic pairing of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, but sadly, it falls short when it comes the laughs and in comparison to their previous two outings. A few pockets of amusement scattered throughout makes for an easy and rather entertaining watch, but the movie as a whole offers little worth remembering. The Blu-ray arrives with surprisingly strong picture quality and a good audio presentation, yet the package lacks any supplemental material, making it a less than satisfying purchase but a decent rental nonetheless.