Stir Crazy -- Allen, AMC Academy, Centre, Crofton Cinema, K-B Crystal, K-B Fine Arts, Loehmann's Plaza, NTI Dale Cinema, NTI Landover Mall, NTI Marlow, NTI Springfield Cinema, NTI White Flint, Roth's Montgomery, Roth's Tyson's Corner, Showcase Fair City Mall, Tenley Circle, Towne Centre (Laurel) and Wheaton Plaza.
If watching Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor dressed up in woodpecker suits is your idea of a real laff riot, you'll love "Stir Crazy." Otherwise, this self-proclaimed zany comedy is strictly for the birds.
The woodpecker bit comes early on in this saga of two best friends who get fed up with city life and head for "the sunbelt." There they find -- duh -- a pudgy redneck sheriff, ornery cowboys just itching for a fight, the works. But they can't find jobs, so they're reduced to dressing up in the bird suits as a gimmick for a local bank. When some crooks steal their costumes and rob the bank, our heroes are blamed and get carted off to jail. After that, there's a rodeo, prison break-out, some topless dancing, car chases -- basically, whatever director Sidney Poitier thought might be funny.
This scattershot approach guarantees that there are some good routines amidst the largely unassimilated material. The movie opens with vignettes of New York City life -- surly natives, slushy sidewalks, fights over taxicabs -- that are in refreshing contrast to the Paul Mazursky-Woody Allen approach to the Big Apple. And a dinner party scene, in which an assortment of unwittingly stoned guests interact, works well, too -- for a while. Poitier carries the joke too far and lets the scene degenerate. It's a recurring problem.
Pryor fans will probably want to see the movie anyway, though he's hardly in top form (the movie was filmed before his accident). He seems lethargic and tuckered out, and the material drags him down even further. There is one inspired bit -- when he struts into prison and explains to a cellful of hardened criminals, "tha's right, tha's right, we ba-a-a-d." "Darn right," says an equally unconvincing Wilder.
The rest of the movie seems awfully mediocre in contrast.