Part 1 by David from ThatMomentIn.com
Our story goes . . . one particularly uneventful Saturday evening, on a particularly starry night, in the early weeks of 1981, two boys, having never met, watch the same episode of BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hours later, they both dream the same dream of being Arthur Dent (and totally making it with Trillian) when Zaphod Beeblebrox initiates the Heart of Gold’s Infinite Improbability Drive. When they awoke, their fears that the dream was real are found untrue. Their lives have not been altered and life goes on the same. Until one day, quite recently actually, each still unknowing the other exists, they arrive home and discover that their easy chairs have been turned into boxes of pristine 1980’s video cassettes. And their bags of Tostitos’ and jars of dip, fully functioning VCRs and remotes. They take to Twitter and it is here that the Eric from The IPC and David from That Moment In find each other and learn of their random, connected fates. A note in the box reads:
You must watch every 80s movie in this box. For each movie, a summary would be nice. Nothing crazy. Maybe something short. Your call. Then you must review the film! To do so, choose and describe these five moments: 1) The Best Moment 2) The stupidest Moment 3) That Special 80s Sexy Moment 4) The Now’s A Good Time toTake A Pee Break Moment and finally 5) The Most Cheesiest Silly Awesome Eighties Moment. Good luck. We are watching you.
Third out of the Box: Stir Crazy (1980)
Inserting tape into VCR. Dimming lights. Pressing play. Fixing tracking . . .
Ah, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor at it again. After working together on the very funny Silver Streak in 1977 (and both being involved in Blazing Saddles before that – Pryor was one of the screen writers), the two comedians join forces for what is easily their best film together. I first saw this on HBO way back when, and hadn’t laughed that hard since watching Tim Conway and Don Knotts as bungling burglars in the Disney family film, The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975). Of course I crazy young at that time and my humor senses weren’t so well-fined. Fart noises had me rolling on the floor. Wait, that hasn’t changed. But there was a rawness to what Wilder and Pryor were doing that struck right at my core, or maybe funny bone. I endlessly quoted this film and there wasn’t a guy in my school that wasn’t struttin’ around the halls saying they were bad in terrible Richard Pryor impressions. I think I wanted to dress as a giant woodpecker that year for Halloween, too, but mom said no and poked holes in my sheets again.
Quick Summary: Two down-on-their-luck friends work odd jobs as they head for Hollywood and the land of dreams, but are wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for a bank robbery they didn’t commit and decide that with no hope of appeal, to break out of jail during a prison rodeo. Kind of like the Great Escape except with rodeo clowns and a folk singing serial killer.
The Best Moment: There can be no other. When the two men are sentenced, they are hardly the criminal type, and thus try to “get bad” by acting tough, which for these two stringy men is about as convincing as Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist working at Russian ICBM base in Kazakhstan. Or Denise Richards as a nuclear physicists working at an American ICBM base. Or Denise Richards as a nuclear physicists working anywhere. Pretty much Denise Richards as anything. Seriously, I’d be more apt to accept Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. Oh right. That happened. Either way, when Wilder starts karate-chopping the air like he’s got a spinal tick, it’s time to put the milk down or else it’s gonna get sprayed in all directions.
The Stupidest Moment: Skip (Wilder) is an overly-optimistic kind of guy and at one point, he sees a fight between a businessman and a cab driver that he thinks is merely a misunderstanding and can be resolved by communication rather than by violence. The businessman has stiffed the cabbie for fare, and the cabbie, considerably smaller but twice as scrappy isn’t backing down and has already begun some “communicating” on his own. He has a grip on the other man’s um, happy stick with a pair of pliers. Skip is somehow unbelievably unaware that the bigger man is a twist away from castration, even though he is standing right between them, carries on talking with them, thinking it is he who has resolved the problem and not a hand tool. Skip. (Ha, a recommendation and a character’s name. Bonus.)
The Special 80s Sexy Moment: Okay, yes, there is a short scene in a titty bar with a bevy of naked bodacious boobs and bums all bouncing beautifully, but that special 80s sexy moment is actually JoBeth Williams at that titty bar undercover as a waitress. She, in her super tight designer denims, baby-blue Western cowgirl shirt and that oh-so-shexy cowboy hat is the real tingle-inducing hot spot. The only girl with any substantial part in the film, she spends most of the movie trying to prove the boys are innocent and giving horny Skip something to think about during those alone times in the prison bathroom.
The Now’s The Time To Take A Pee Break Moment: The prison warden has big money on a rodeo competition against the rich kids over in the camp across the lake, I mean the prison in the next town. He recruits prisoners by way of a mechanical bull in his office, which, surprisingly, Skip can ride at top speed with no problem! (He was the Frisco Kid after all.) But Skip learns the rodeo is a scam, and refuses to join, so the warden tries to break him by putting him in solitaire, stringing him, up and finally, hitting him where it hurts by gripping his happy stick with a pair of pliers, er, no, putting Harry in the prison infirmary and threatening to take out his appendix. Story point aside, the scene is just dreadful as it’s another few minutes of Harry making strange faces and being shocked by what’s happening, something we’ve seen many times already before. It’s topped off with an ugly stereotype to boot. Pee time.
The Most Cheesiest Silly Awesome Eighties Moment: A strange thing happened in the nineteen eighties, and it wasn’t just the fad of parachute pants and high top basketball shoes with rayon net tank tops. No, it was mechanical bulls, made popular, or at least more so, by John Travolta, who we can blame for disco as well. He starred in a paint-by-numbers drama/romance called Urban Cowboy that inexplicably had everyone clamoring for a chance to prove themselves worthy by not falling off a fake boy cow with a motor for a heart. At the time, I was clamoring for a chance to date a girl named Suzy, which ended up feeling a lot like getting thrown from a bull so naturally I blame John Travolta for that, too.
Stir Crazy is a pretty solid film throughout, even though it makes a fairly abrupt shift from comedy to drama in the last third during the prison escape. Oh right. Spoiler alert. There’s a prison escape. Wilder and Pryor are consistently funny, though the guffaws, cowering, whimpering, and flailing end just about when they should, especially from Pryor who spends most the first two acts in a state of a kind of guttural, mumbling panic, which is tear-inducingly funny until it gets to be a character trait. Good movie. Let’s see what Eric thinks . . . .