“You dirt-eating piece of slime, you scum-sucking pig, you son of a motherless goat!”
The fact that ¡Three Amigos! was not a hit when it was released in 1986 should come as a surprise. Here we have a film with three of the most loved SNL alum in the starring roles; Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. The film was directed by 80’s favourite John Landis and the music was done by Randy Newman. There are even cameos from other 80’s comedians, like Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman. But the movie received middling reviews and failed to take off at the box office. Since then however, the reviews have become more favourable and the film has taken it’s place as a cult classic. Now, as the film as just been released on Blu-ray in the UK for the first time, let’s look back on this comedy favourite.
The plot is as follows; The Three Amigos were big silent movie stars, appearing in Hollywood films as a trio of gunslingers. After seeing one of the films a naive Mexican town recruits them to come and save them from bandits terrorizing the town, a request the Amigos misinterpret as an acting gig. It’s a similar premise to other films, Galaxy Quest was the sci-fi movie version of this and Tropic Thunder was the war movie version, but it’s still a hilarious set up thanks in part to how believably dim witted the titular Amigos are. Steve Martin is Lucky Day, Chevy Chase is Dusty Bottoms and Martin Short is Ned Nederlander, but everyone will have their own favourite of the three before long (mine is ‘Little Neddy’). As soon as we meet them we know how over the top and how far from reality this film is going to be (mostly due to the pastel coloured suits they’re all sporting) but nothing can quite prepare you for how bizarre this film gets in places. From Dusty’s strange guitar playing to the mystical invisible swordsman, it’s an absurd and hilarious film.
There are numerous sight gags throughout and plenty of quick jokes (“We could take a walk and you could kiss me on the veranda.” “Lips would be fine.”) and a few standout comedic set pieces. The humour is of the sort that will have you quoting lines and reciting bits for a long time after you watch it. Much of the comedy plays out like some of the best SNL sketches from the era. But it’s a series of sketches, not one long sketch stretched too thin, the jokes never feel tired. And weighing in at about 100 minutes the film moves from joke to joke at a good pace. As you can expect with a co-writing credit from Randy Newman, a few of these scenes are musical. In fact the film begins with a song. The songs are amazing and all three of the actors clearly have the talent to pull them off, the standout for me is the ‘My Little Buttercup’ scene below.
The conclusion to the film is as outlandish and bizarre as the rest of the film that proceeded it (“Sew, very old one! Sew like the wind!”) but it really couldn’t have ended any other way. Looking at it now the story might feel a little too familiar, but that never really matters because you’re too caught up in the humour. Also I suppose the way Mexico is treated in the film is quite stereotypical (though that works with when the film was set). Any problem with it is difficult to care about purely because of the charm of the three leads. They are some of the most watchable characters I have ever seen and their friendship is what makes the film. I hate to say it’s ‘nice’ as a positive of the film but it’s true of the ¡Three Amigos!. It’s just a film you want to spend more time in the company of. It’s humour hits the mark every time for me and I’m sure everyone will find something to love in it.
I couldn’t recommend ¡Three Amigos! more.
Blu-ray notes – The Blu-ray look amazing, and the music sounds stunning. It’s just a shame about the lack of extras, there is nothing. It seems like the company behind it deals with cult films and without them we might never have seen the film in Blu-ray in the UK, so it’s only a little niggle.
Reviewed by Jack