(director: John Landis; screenwriters: Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Randy Newman; cinematographer: Ronald W. Browne; editor: Malcolm Campbell; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Chevy Chase (Dusty Bottoms), Martin Short (Ned Nederlander), Steve Martin (Lucky Day), Patrice Martinez (Carmen), .Joe Mantegna (Harry Flugleman), Alphonso Arau (El Guapo), Jorge Cervera (Bandito #1), Kai Wulff (German), Tony Plana (Jefe), Jon Lovitz (Morty), Phil Hartman (Sam); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Lorne Michaels/George Folsey Jr; HBO; 1986)
“Directed without much wit by John Landis.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A stylized Western slapstick parody, based on making The Magnificent Seven into a musical comedy. It’s directed without much wit by John Landis (“Kentucky Fried Movie “/”Trading Places”). The writers are Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels (the former Saturday Night Live producer) and Randy Newman (the singer/songwriter, who wrote the songs).
It’s about three washed-up silent screen actors, in 1916, who get fired by the studio boss (Joe Mantegna), They then take their costumed song and dance act as the Three Amigos to a Mexican village, riding there in costume, not knowing the place is controlled by a ruthless gang, led by the killer El Guapo (Alphonso Arau). The three Amigos are Dusty (Chevy Chase), Ned (Martin Short) and Lucky (Steve Martin), who play the fancy spangled costumed wearers of big sombreros, and act as heroic gay caballeros. The hungry actors don’t realize that El Guapo doesn’t know that they’re performers and they don’t realize the gang is terrorizing the town for real. They were hired by telegram, in a garbled message, by the town’s pretty but naive daughter of the mayor, Carmen (Patrice Martinez), who saw them in a movie and mistakes their manly acts of courage against the outlaws in the movies as real.
When the Three Amigos are revealed as wimpy Hollywood actors and run out of town by the gang, the gang then destroys the town and kidnaps Carmen. The despondent boys then decide to be real men and free Carmen by taking on the gang. The boys get some macho magic visiting the singing bush (singing stale popular ditties) and locating the invisible swordsman (for whatever that’s worth, in the film’s funniest sight gag), then the singing cowboys return to face El Guapo in his hideout.
It’s a grating film, that keeps getting worse as the Three Amigos become even more irksome characters as the story continues with their unconvincing innocent stupidity act going past the point of any tolerance for it. It’s hard to believe how these three talented comedian stars could be so unfunny. But the stinker had a few funny physical comedy bits (like the animated singing horses) and the singing of the Newman songs had its dazzling moments.
REVIEWED ON 7/29/2020 GRADE: C+