Starring: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Joan Severance
Director: Arthur Hiller
Running Time: 103 mins
See No Evil, Hear No Evil is an American film about Wally and Dave, two friends who witness a murder. However, Wally is blind and Dave is deaf, meaning their witness report heavily complicates matters in the investigation.
This is a fun and chaotic movie. With two very entertaining lead performances from Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, combined with a unique and clever premise, there’s ample room for mishaps and hijinks galore here. As a result, this is a consistently enjoyable watch, although it doesn’t quite manage to go to the next level and grab you with a particularly interesting, or even fully coherent, crime story.
Let’s start with the plus side, though, and those two lead performances. Wilder and Pryor are beloved classic comedians, and films like this, even when they don’t have the greatest and most classic material, show how naturally funny and entertaining they can be.
Playing the roles of a deaf and blind man respectively, Wilder and Pryor do a great job at bringing their characters’ conditions to life in both a convincing and still exaggeratedly entertaining way. Throughout, the two play up everything about a deaf and a blind man, inevitably leading them into all sorts of awkward situations and more, but it’s all the more fun simply because you’ve got the two having fun with those roles from the beginning.
What’s more is that the pair have great chemistry together. Although their characters often have a difficult time fully communicating, it’s great to see their friendship evolve over the course of the movie, and with each of the actors’ great charisma, they’re a mighty likable pair to watch at every moment, which is easily the most enjoyable part of the movie as a whole.
When it comes to the screenplay here, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the premise of a deaf man and a blind mand getting into a situation like this is great thinking, and it opens the door for all sorts of great hijinks. The pure comedic writing and individual gags aren’t quite as hilarious, but they’re made better by that side of the story’s lighter atmosphere.
On the other hand, the film doesn’t really manage to get its crime story as far off the ground as it would like to. It’s great fun to watch Wilder and Pryor end up in all sorts of mishaps, however whenever the movie tries to develop the other side of the story a little more, it’s just not interesting, original or convincing enough.
So, while this is a fun and light-hearted comedy, it’s a little bit of a mess whenever it tries to weave a slightly darker crime story in between, failing to emulate the likes of Beverly Hills Cop in mixing the two genres so well, and that’s why I’m giving See No Evil, Hear No Evil a 6.9 overall.