Review by: Dave Griffiths
Just released on Blu-Ray/DVD in Australia by Via Vision Entertainment and Madman.
The big question you always have to ask yourself when you sit down to watch an old comedy when it is re-released is ‘does the comedy hold up in modern times?’ Often it doesn’t as comedy is one of those genres that has got more outrageous and more daring as the years have gone by. Sitting down to re-watch See No Evil, Hear No Evil after all these years though will pleasantly surprise because despite being made twenty-seven years ago this is still one of the funniest comedies ever made.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching this hilarious comedy the film sees deaf kiosk owner Dave Lyons (Gene Wilder – Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory) hire blind-man Wally Karue (Richard Pryor – Lost Highway) to work with him. The two quickly become friends and realize that they can be each other’s eyes and ears, however things take a turn for the worst when they witness/hear a murder that they are both blamed for by the Police. While the two work to clear their name their lives are also placed in danger when the murderers, Eve (Joan Severance – Bird On A Wire) and Kirgo (Kevin Spacey – American Beauty), try to hunt them as well.
With See No Evil, Hear No Evil director Arthur Hiller (Love Story) goes very close to creating the perfect comedy. This is the kind of film that has you laughing from start to finish as Hiller and his team of screenwriters come up with comedy gold after comedy gold. Whether it be funny one liners or moments of pure comedy slapstick this is one film where the comedy never falls flat. The sad thing is that today this film would probably never get paid as I’m sure it would be considered very politically incorrect to make fun of people being deaf and blind… ironically it is movies like these that make the general public more open to handicaps like this.
The secret to this film working is not only having the audience in stitches throughout the film but making the audience feel for the characters involved as well. Dave is the kind of guy that audience will quickly warm to, a sad man who feels like he is isolated from the general public because of his disability, but the screenwriters have to work harder to create sympathy for Wally who originally comes across as pretty brash. Luckily the filmmakers are up to the task and soon Wally becomes just as lovable as Dave.
Story-wise the film also works brilliantly. While so many comedies these days work hard to get laughs but forget that a good plot is also a necessity See No Evil, Hear No Evil does exactly the opposite. While the audience are shown who the murderers are very early on in the film the screenplay does manage to create suspense throughout, not only with the audience wondering whether or not Wally or Dave will be arrested and killed but because one of Wally’s loved ones’ lives is put in danger and any number of the boys’ antics could get them exposed.
The key to this film working though is its stars. Wilder and Pryor were two of the greatest comedic stars of their time and here they come together and form one of the best comedy duo performances of all time. Wilder and Pryor bounce off each other with impeccable timing and seem to genuinely be having a fun time together. While his role is only small Kevin Spacey also performs well in one of his earlier roles while Joan Severance shines as the femme fatale.
If you’ve never seen See No Evil, Hear No Evil before than it is time to watch a comedy that teaches the likes of Adam Sandler and co a thing or two about being a comedic star who creates a film with pure comedic brilliance. It is not over stating the fact to point out that this is one of the funniest comedies ever made and this is the kind of film that will have you laughing from start to finish.