Stir Crazy | Chicago Reader

Stir Crazy

Richard Pryor, probably the only certifiable comic genius of his generation, still couldn't get a break in movies. This prison comedy makes some good use of Pryor's mock cowardice, but most of the time he's stuck playing straight man to Gene Wilder, whose flights of fey whimsy dominate the picture. The blunt, cartoonish direction is by Sidney Poitier; perhaps the broad obnoxiousness of the performances here is Poitier's revenge for the decades of polite self-effacement he suffered as an actor. Bruce Jay Friedman's script has a vaguely satirical premise—it's a New Yorker's paranoid view of the hinterlands—but the humor is low and uncomfortably sadistic, largely dedicated to comic B&D.

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