Three Amigos! (1986)

11 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

When “Three Amigos” started, I was sure I was in for a treat. I laughed at the very beginning when the three stars of the film called the Three Amigos—silent film stars who dress in strangely designed outfits and hats and cummerbunds; and the three stars are played by Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short—sing the opening song, “The Credo of the Three Amigos.” That opening scene is very funny and it assured me that I was going to enjoy this movie.

Now, if whatever assured me I was going to like this movie was a person, I’d sock him in the nose because once the film actually started after that wonderful opening, I was just plain bored. This is not a good movie—it just didn’t do it for me. It wastes the comedic energies of the three actors, who can be very funny, and bores us with a dull storyline.

The movie takes place in the Old West around Mexico. The Three Amigos wear the same funny-looking costumes in their silent films so that in the movie, everybody either looks at them with respect or confusion. That joke is repetitive and gets lame. When a small village in Mexico is under siege, they’re called upon by the villagers who believe that they really are heroes, bona fide gunfighters. Of course the three guys think they’re making a personal appearance, so they steal their outfits from the Hollywood studio and head out to the village.

They meet the villains and have fun with them and they realize after a long time that they’re facing real danger with real guns. After hesitation, they decide to roll up their sleeves and become the Three Amigos for real. So they go through the desert, searching for the bad guys to challenge them.

Uh…yeah, I’m pretty sure there are better Westerns than this. “Three Amigos” wants to be funny and sweet and there are only three real funny and beautiful moments. One is that opening scene I mentioned above. Another is a scene that satirizes the Technicolor backdrop of the old Westerns with the Amigos singing a song around a campfire with the horses and owls joining in. And the last is right after that scene in which the Amigos encounter a singing bush. Strangely, the best moments in this movie all have something to do with composer/singer Randy Newman, who wrote the songs and performs as the singing bush. All three of those moments are funny. If the film had more of those, the film would be going somewhere nice. But instead, we have actors walking around like they don’t know what they’re doing and in the desert, no less. The plot gets boring.

I’ve seen a lot of “pre-‘Amigos’” Saturday Night Live sketches and I know Martin Short is a terrific manic comedian. This was his first movie. He looks excited to be in a movie, but he seems restrained because he doesn’t do anything manic. He just stands there, looking happy to be there—unlike Chevy Chase, who looks dead throughout the whole film. He doesn’t have many lines and he is barely used. Steve Martin is somewhat miscast as the straight man of the bunch. It pains me that these actors’ comedic energies are wasted in this movie. The script takes no chances with them.

Director John Landis has directed some very funny movies (his films include “Animal House,” “Blues Brothers,” and “Trading Places”); “Three Amigos” is not one of them.

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