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"See No Evil...'

"See No Evil...'

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Film: "See No Evil, Hear No Evil"

Stars: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor and Joan Severance

Theaters: Park Lane, Spectrum, Woodland Hills, Admiral Drive-in

and Cinema 8 (Broken Arrow, Sand Springs) theaters

Rating: R (profanity, brief nudity)

Quality:***(on a scale of zero to five stars)

It might seem that trying to recapture the comic sparks

that Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor gave off in "Silver

Streak" and "Stir Crazy" is like capturing lightning

in a bottle for a third time.

But "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" aims at just that, teaming

up the two brilliant physical comedians in a buddy picture/chase

movie that has Wilder as a deaf man and Pryor as a blind


And while it's not lightning this movie captures, it does

generate more than the regular output of high-concept wattage

usually expected from such calculated, commerical comedies.

"See No Evil, Hear No Evil" follows closely in the standard

formula of its predecessors (in fact, director Arthur Hiller

was also behind the cameras for "Silver Streak").

It goes this way: Wally (Pryor), the blind owner of a Manhattan

newsstand, and Dave (Wilder), his deaf partner, show up

to work one day and find a corpse on the premises. Before

they know it, they're on the run for a murder they didn't


Their only hope is to track down the real murderers (Dave

thinks he saw a beautiful female suspect; Wally thinks he

smelled her perfume) to clear their names.

That's pretty much the whole storyline.

But it's enough to give the two stars reason to stumble

around trying to avoid capture and catch the real crooks

(Joan Severance and Kevin Spacey) and to fire off scattershot

jokes based on their respective characters' disabilities.

There are some amusing fight scenes and car chase sequences

where Dave has to serve as Wally's eyes and Wally has to

serve as Dave's ears. While this certainly isn't subtle

comedy, it also isn't really offensive. According to production

notes, the film's producers consulted with both the Braille

Institute and the New York League for the Hard of Hearing

in an effort to avoid potential controversy and steer clear

of exploitative humor.

If the movie offends, it will likely be a result of its

sexist references to women, its crude gynecological jokes,

its scatalogical gags and its stream of vulgar language.

But most of that sounds worse than it actually is. Largely,

the film is amiable and ingenious enough to entertain in

an easily predictable, commercial fashion.

The frantic, pop-eyed Wilder and the gaunt, acerbic Pryor

have aged well as a comic duo, and work together with the

ease of veteran vaudevillians.

The movie's committee of five screenwriters (Wilder among

them) manages to give the stars more than enough bits of

funny business to keep the laughs coming rapid fire, and

Hiller ("Outrageous Fortune") has obviously worked the

buddy-movie genre before.

In the most charitable light, it's possible to read into

this film a subtext that shows how the two men can triumph

over their limitations by working together and trusting

in the strength of friendship. But those sentiments are

suggested, never preached.

"See No Evil, Hear No Evil" is just the type of broad,

mainstream comedy that both Wilder and Pryor need to spark

their languishing movie careers to life again. We'll see

(and hear) soon enough if this comic team still has it at

the box office.


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