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George Roy Hill
Madolyn Smith Osborne,
Two totally incompetent applicants, Emmett Fitzhume and Austin Millbarge, are chosen from a CIA recruitment program. They are parachuted into Pakistan and eventually end up in Afghanistan, chased by the Russians, where they learn they are being used as decoys to draw out the Soviet defenses. Two real spies are sent in. Their mission is to hijack a Soviet missile launcher, launch the Soviet missile, and test the new U.S. orbital defense laser. The missile is fired, and while heading for an American city the laser system misses its target. The contingency plan for this scenario, as set out by the Pentagon nuts who planned it from deep within a secret underground bunker, is to let the 3rd World War happen anyway. Written by
This saw the first pairing of comedians Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd (who later appear in 'Caddyshack II and 'Nothing but Trouble') in a John Landis successfully directed espionage/ Cold War comedy. What a choice of three to bring out the laughs, but I never found it to be the laugh riot that I was hoping. In the end it's a randomly transfixing buddy comedy in the vein of a Bob Hope/ Bing Crosby film (which the former has a sudden cameo in) that has two clueless undercover operatives used as foils to distract KGB from the actual operatives with an assignment. Landis loves his self-knowing, referential gags and Chase's dry style feels suitably catered to this, and Aykroyd complements the balance with his light touches. The timing is always on the mark. Plus let's not forget about the cameos of pals in for the fun including Frank Oz, Joel Coen, Sam Raimi, B.B King, Terry Gilliam, Martin Brest, Larry Cohen and Ray Harryhausen. Rounding off the entertaining performances was the beautiful Donna Dixon, larger than life Steve Forest, a sneaky Bruce Davison, slimly Jim Staahl and an attractive Vanessa Angel.
The humour ranges from slapstick shtick to comically witty exchanges (Chase's often quick replies) and deadpan acts, as the equipped story is a comedy of errors led by two hapless individuals which would end up saving the day in an unlikely manner. It's a fairly amusing and offbeat concept, as it holds surprises, its fast momentum never lets it sit too long on the one gag. There such a variety to the comic silliness and it goes out on a bang. The crystal clear European locations are exquisitely used in shots, and adds considerably well to the large-scale adventure directed by verve from Landis.
Landis would team up again with Chevy Chase a year later to bring us the even better '¡Three Amigos!' that would also star Steve Martin and Martin Short.
On a need to know basis good dashing, systematic fun.
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