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‘Three Amigos’ (PG)

By Paul Attanasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 12, 1986

Steve Martin's film work runs the gamut from the brilliance of "The Man With Two Brains" to something like "Three Amigos," of which he is star, executive producer and cowriter. As gamuts go, this is one heck of one.

In "Three Amigos," Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short play three silent movie stars who stand up to their mogul and ask for a raise. Boy, wotta mistake! He throws them out on their three keisters! But this is show business. A telegram arrives requesting a performance by the three paupers, for a princely sum. It turns out that the message is garbled, though -- a woman in the small Mexican town of Santa Poco thinks the Three Amigos are real-life heroes! Well (chuckle) maybe they'll prove her right.

"Three Amigos" is a spoof along the lines of "Rustler's Rhapsody" or "Transylvania 6-5000." You've probably forgotten those, and, in the blessed process through which the mind heals itself, you'll probably forget "Three Amigos," too.

It is no surprise to see Chase offering as the very quintessence of comedy such morsels as the spitting of water, the spilling of the contents of a taco, and a relentless assortment of winks and eyebrow flutters that the untutored might mistake for an affliction. But from Steve Martin, you expect something more.

The script of "Three Amigos" (Martin's collaborators were producer Lorne Michaels and singer Randy Newman) plays like it was slapped together by a few friends with a tape recorder enjoying a charming weekend at the beach. You can't tell one amigo from another, the gags are silly (a "singing bush") and far between, the dialogue full of inane wordplay. Sample: "We could take a walk and you could kiss me on the veranda." "The lips would be fine."

How many amigos does it take to screw in a light bulb?

"Three Amigos" contains some mild profanity.

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