After the recent passing of Gene Wilder, I feel it would be fitting if I offered my own tribute to the great actor by reviewing See no evil, Hear no evil. Along with the late also great Richard Pryor, this film was a childhood favourite, a light hearted comedy that may not be as famous as the classics Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory, or Blazing saddles for Gene Wilder.
This, for me, is a heart-warming story acted out fantastically by Wilder and Pryor which displays excellent comedic timing.
Wilder plays Dave, a kiosk manager who has lost his hearing. Wally played by Prior tries not to let the fact that he’s blind stop him and takes on a job at the kiosk with Dave. After some confusion between the characters due to their respective disabilities, Wally defeats a bully in a bar brawl and the pair begin to bond, helping each other out by counter balancing each other’s weaknesses for example; Dave guides Wally around by using his voice or actions such as stomping and Wally lets Dave know what people are saying when his back is turned and he cannot lip read.
After witnessing a murder, they are arrested by the clearly incompetent police and they have to escape in an attempt to clear their names and catch the real killers who are hunting them down for knowing too much.
Kevin Spacey plays one of three villains looking to hunt down Dave and Wally. The role requires a rather basic, typical high class villain, which doesn’t really showcase his talent or give him scope to manoeuvre as an actor. Despite this, for the purpose of the film, the bad guy played by Kevin Spacey is satisfactory enough to add to Wilder and Pryor’s comedic genius.
Although the film when released in 1989 was critically panned, it was a box office success and the jokes although juvenile, really appealed to me as a child watching it in the late 80’s and they haven’t disappointed me as an adult. The script may be a little formulaic but the skilled acting by the lead characters and their comic timing make up for the lack of originality in the script.
The film warmly shows, in a not so subtle way, how attitudes to disability can embrace humour without putting down disability. Together the characters become unlikely action heroes. They learn through their friendship that they both have the skills and determination to overcome more than they thought they ever could.
This film, although lacking in certain ways, instills a positive message about dealing with disability and learning tolerance of others, a message that should be engraved in the heart of young and old alike. The film, for me, has stood the test of time quite well, with only the fashion becoming dated.
Gene Wilder along with Richard Pryor, manage to turn what could have been the worst idea for a movie, into a well-acted, enjoyable film that I remember fondly from my childhood and that will forever remain in my heart, always bringing a warm glow, in the same way that Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory do for others
R.I.P. Gene Wilder
I rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars