See No Evil, Hear No Evil is Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder at their best. The story isn’t great and in fact is quite dumb but the pair’s comedic timing and chemistry makes the 100-minutes so worthwhile.
Genre(s): Comedy, Crime
Image | R – 102 min. – $17.97 | January 24, 2012
Directed by: Arthur Hill
Writer(s): Earl Barret & Arne Sultan & Marvin Worth (story), Earl Barret & Arne Sultan and Eliot Wald & Andrew Kurtzman and Gene Wilder (screenplay)
Cast: Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Joan Severance, Kevin Spacey, Anthony Zerbe
Theatrical Release Date: May 12, 1989
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Uncompressed PCM Surround)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: NA
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Plot: It was murder! The blind guy couldn’t see it. The deaf guy couldn’t hear it. But they’re both wanted for it. Meet Wally (RICHARD PRYOR) and Dave (GENE WILDER)—Wally is blind, Dave is deaf. When a man is murdered outside the newsstand where they work, the police collar these two unlikely buddies as their main suspects. A chase ensues as Wally and Dave hightail it from New York Police Department to snag the real bad guys—the wickedly beautiful Eve (JOAN SEVERANCE) and her cold-blooded cohort, Kirgo (KEVIN SPACEY).
The comedic pairing of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder are one of the best in history, right up there IMO with Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon and even Chris Farley and David Spade. Maybe it’s that their styling’s are so distinct but whenever they’re on screen together, no matter how inane the plotline might be or how some of the jokes don’t quite land, their friendship comes across the screen like no other.
In See No Evil, Hear No Evil, the pair works so well with one another that even the jokes that don’t or shouldn’t hit the mark manage to do so thanks to either of their complimenting personalities. Now, I can’t quite say this is a classic comedy but having not seen it in many years (and even then it was probably on Comedy Central), it’s held up remarkably well. So despite any failings with the screenplay (by no less than 5 writings including Gene Wilder and a couple of past “SNL” writers), Richard Pryor and Wilder makes everything work from beginning to end.
As a side, it’s fun to see Kevin Spacey before he made it big and the beautiful Joan Severance who fills the vixen/villainous role so damn well; though her own career is primarily comprised in more of the erotic thriller realm. The two, even in smaller roles by comparison, play up the villain parts without going over-the-top, a trait that wasn’t exactly in short supply in 1980s comedy.
The film was directed by Arthur Hiller whose career began in the 1950s in a variety of television shows (“Gunsmoke”, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “Route 66”, etc.) before tackling feature films in different genres; his last one on record, sadly enough, is the truly atrocious National Lampoon’s Pucked. For SNE, HNE, his job probably was simple enough: just let Pryor and Wilder do their thing and make sure the camera is rolling. Of course, to his credit, Hiller’s direction style isn’t prominent yet at the same time he manages to keep the comedy pacing going with an even, steady flow.
Overall, while I wasn’t as enamored with See No Evil, Hear No Evil as some, it’s still a flick with many funny scenes and just seeing the fantastic comedic chemistry between Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder makes it all worthwhile.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
No features have been provided.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Image once again provides an avenue to which we can get some of these gems into high-def and frankly, I found this transfer to be pretty damn good, surprisingly enough. The film is presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and the 1080p HD transfer looks crisp and clean throughout. Colors seem to be well balanced and I didn’t notice any obvious flaws like dust and scratches that often can show in older films.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The disc comes with an uncompressed PCM Surround track which, while not great, isn’t too bad either. The dialogue levels are nice and clear from beginning to end and even the few fight/chase scenes have a slight oomph behind them.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, See No Evil, Hear No Evil is Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder at their best. The story isn’t great and in fact is quite dumb but the pair’s comedic timing and chemistry makes the 100-minutes so worthwhile. As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, not surprisingly there are no features but the audio and video transfers are definitely better than the DVD counterpart. At a low SRP, you should be able to nab this for under $10 (maybe even in the $5 range) and at that point it’d be worth picking up.