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Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989)

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Penn & Teller enjoy playing jokes on each other. When Penn says on an interview show that he wishes he has someone threatening his life so that he "wouldn't sweat the small stuff," each of ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Penn (as Penn)
...
...
Carlotta / Officer McNamara (as Celia McGuire)
...
The Fan
...
Ernesto
Celia McGuire ...
Officer McNamara
Bill Randolph ...
Floor Director
John Miller ...
Steve the bandleader
Ellen Whyte ...
Makeup Woman
Ted Neustadt ...
Bob the host
Tudor Sherrard ...
1st Frat Boy
...
2nd Frat Boy
...
3rd Frat Boy
Leonard Parker ...
Airport Porter
Christopher Durang ...
Jesus Freak
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Storyline

Penn & Teller enjoy playing jokes on each other. When Penn says on an interview show that he wishes he has someone threatening his life so that he "wouldn't sweat the small stuff," each of them begins a series of pranks on the other to suggest a real threat. Then they find that a real psychopath is interested in them. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Genres:

Adventure | Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Con la morte non si scherza  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(one scene)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The elderly man and woman seated at a table on the right side of the screen during Penn and "Carlotta's" conversation in the Mexican restaurant were Penn's real-life parents, Sam and Valda Jillette. See more »

Goofs

When Penn is being removed from the casino by the cop, his chants of "Attica! Attica!" don't match his mouth. That's because he originally sang "We shall overcome! We shall overcome!" as can be seen in the trailer. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
[narrating from beyond the grave as the camera pulls back]
Penn: [voice-over] Oh, yeah. We're dead and there's no way out. I mean, it couldn't be a gag, it couldn't be a joke. We're not gonna have one of the characters wake up from a bad dream; you'd hate us for that! I mean the movie is called 'Penn & Teller Get Killed.' We HAD to get killed at the end, there's no way out of that. We were married to that ending from the moment we thought of the title, and now we've actually killed off ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

To hide the fact that Caitlin Clarke played a dual role, she was also credited under the pseudonym 'Celia McGuire.' The closing credits reveal the pseudonym with the consecutive credits: Officer McNamara...Celia McGuire Celia McGuire...Caitlin Clarke See more »

Connections

References A Plumbing We Will Go (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

American Pie
Written by Don McLean
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Works as an introduction and a terrific gift for fans
7 October 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's difficult to review and discuss Penn & Teller Get Killed as a typical comedy because, much like the duo it is profiling, the film attempts to subvert convention and defy the ordinary and is hard to judge on the basis of typical cinema. The film plays by its own rules, operates under the logic of illusionists, and provides the viewer with eight-nine minutes of unpredictability and ridiculousness.

We open on the set of a talk show, with magicians Penn Jillette and his silent-partner Teller hanging upside down in mid-air. The cameras themselves are upside, showing Penn and Teller allegedly sitting behind a desk on set right side up. Penn and Teller do a few levitation tricks in front of a studio audience, who obviously know the trick, and encourage them to respond enthusiastically when Penn asks, "are we live?" to assure the audiences at home that there is no camera trickery.

This is one of the many tricks Penn and Teller perform in the film, but this film isn't just a showcase for their tricks. When the gag is up, the two are interviewed on the talk show where Penn says he wishes somebody would try and kill him. What unfolds is Penn, his girlfriend Carlotta (Caitlin Clarke), and Teller going about their day-to-day lives filled with trickery and nonsense.

As stated, this is a tricky film to summarize. At times it feels more of a showcase for the duo's talents rather than a film and, mainly during its third act, it feels like a film more than a showcase. One of the issues is director Arthur Penn has a difficult time communicating the direction of the picture to the audience, and, to be fair, I think even the greatest cinematic auteur would find it a considerable challenge to do what Penn & Teller Get Killed sets out to do and do it without any reservations or confusion. The film is a satirical black comedy, and because of this, I think it has an inherently difficult time communicating itself because it would appear that it wants to make its motivations clear to the audience, which I can also understand. The film is a cult film, but makes the right move of trying to communicate itself on all levels. This way, there's none of that "singling out" process I see with some more mainstream cult films; ones that seem to try and pick and choose their audiences without giving everyone the ability to like the end product. Ironically, the fact that it struggles to make itself universally appealing is ultimately a large strength on its part.

I'm also a big fan of Penn and Teller in general, which can only help my positive feelings for this film. Their style of skeptic humor, illusionist humor, and logical discussion (used effectively on their Showtime show Penn & Teller: Bullshit!) has kept me a constant viewer of their work. It wasn't until I watched Penn & Teller Get Killed that I knew depressingly little about their stage magic and the work that they do as a duo in live shows. The film has the ability to provide you with a nice introduction to their work along with being a welcomed present for already self-aware fans.

Starring: Penn Jillette, Teller, and Caitlin Clarke. Directed by: Arthur Penn.


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GET THIS RELEASED ON DVD! macgyver5
Released to DVD! Finally! stubadubb
underrated black comedy teejay6682
Cutting Teller in half underwater. SomethingSnappy
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