Plot: Three cowboy movie stars from the silent era - Dusty Bottoms (Chase), Lucky Day (Martin) and Ned Nederlander (Short) - are fired when one of their movies bombs. In what seems to be a career-saving offer, young Mexican woman Carmen (Martinez) offers them a high-paying gig in her village. The three jump at the opportunity, expecting to do their typical act, but Carmen believes they are really heroes and asks them to rid her village of bad guy El Guapo (Arau).
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This week, with the new Steve Martin/Martin Short standup special now on NetFlix®, it seemed like a good idea to dust off an 80’s classic, Three Amigos. With Chevy Chase joining the aforementioned Steve and Martin, this one seemed wonderful on paper….and in our nostalgic minds.
But, would time (and age) have withered the fun in Three Amigos? Or was this an 80’s classic still worth watching today?
Steve Martin leads the way in Three Amigos, and seems to set the pace for his co-stars. While it’s not his funniest work, he seems to be having a good time. He’s a bit more understated in his comedy, but that strong wit of his still shows through.
Chevy Chase, who was in the midst of slew of hilarity that included National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Fletch (1985) and Spies Like Us (1985), is again, decently funny in Three Amigos, but it’s definitely not his best work. Playing the bumbling idiot (ala his “Saturday Night Live” (TV) days), he’s probably the best of the three, but still, the viewer feels like he could have done just a little bit more.
Martin Short was the least known of the trio back in the 80’s (having only been on “Saturday Night Live” (TV) previously), but he’s does what he can in Three Amigos. He’s easily outdistanced by the other two, but he does have his moments. Surprisingly, despite his obvious inexperience, he seems like he’s a good fit for the trio. They treat him like a younger brother in the film, so it kind of makes sense he’s a bit less experienced.
The plot itself of Three Amigos is easily the wackiest part of the film. Three out-of-work Hollywood actors Misinterpret a telegram they receive, and think they are being paid a lot to put on a show with a “more than famous” Mexican actor. Instead, they are being summoned by a naive Mexican gal to defend her town against the evil El Guapo.
It’s a hilarious fish-out-of-water setup, and has since been translated into films like TROPIC THUNDER with a lot of success. Unfortunately, Three Amigos doesn’t quite take full advantage of this, as the film quickly rushes through the confrontations and spends most of it’s time, oddly, with the trio in the desert. From a quirky sing-a-long to a odd convoluted traveling sequence involving a singing bush and an invisible swordsman, it’s meant to parody other westerns, but it seems to take away from their fish-out-of-water storyline.
Still, even those sequences have moments of laughter, just not quite as much as the viewer may have expected. While the whole of Three Amigos is decent enough, the viewer seems constantly reminded how much better it could have been. With Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin in their prime, this could have been one hilarious film. Instead, it has a great premise, and just not as many laughs as expected.
Even so, Three Amigos is worth checking out just for that premise, and for highlights of it’s stars in their prime. Just don’t expect to leave the film without a bit of disappointment over what it could have been.