Two Comedies from Columbia Pictures
Stir Crazy (August 9/07)
Starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in their second collaboration together, Stir Crazy casts the comedic duo as friends sent to prison for a bank robbery they didn't commit. Though it does possess a number of genuinely hilarious sequences - ie it's impossible not to get a kick out of the pollyannaish zeal with which Wilder's character approaches his surroundings - the film is ultimately undone by a distinctly unfunny, strangely dramatic second half that can't help but come off as needless and entirely anti-climactic. Screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman eschews the wackiness of the opening hour in favor of an increasing emphasis on Wilder and Pryor's efforts to escape, with much of the movie's third act occurring virtually without dialogue within the confines of an outdoor rodeo. To say that the film loses its focus is an understatement of ridiculous proportions, and one can't help but wish that director Sidney Poitier had just let Wilder and Pryor do their thing. It's due to their undeniable chemistry that Stir Crazy is able to maintain an amiable vibe, though there's little doubt that the movie is rarely as engaging as they are.
There's A Girl In My Soup
Featuring an incredibly dated vibe and an overall feeling of pointlessness, There's A Girl In My Soup never quite comes off as anything more than a relic of the 1970s - though star Peter Sellers' effortlessly charismatic performance often elevates the proceedings to something that's mildly watchable. Sellers plays Robert Danvers, a sex-crazed TV host who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a free-spirited 19-year-old named Marion (Goldie Hawn). Though Robert initially wants nothing more than to bed the woman, Marion eventually wins Robert's respect and the two soon find themselves spending all their free time together - much to the chagrin of Marion's on-again-off-again boyfriend (Nicky Henson's Jimmy). That There's A Girl In My Soup is based on the play by Terence Frisby comes as no surprise, as the film's stagy and relentlessly talky atmosphere certainly never belies its theatrical origins. And while the movie is relatively cute and entertaining at the outset, there's simply no denying that there reaches a point at which the whole thing wears out its welcome - a feeling that's exacerbated by a particularly aimless third act (in which Robert and Marion frolic in the South of France).