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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 »

Director:

Arthur Penn

Writers:

Penn Jillette, Teller
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Penn Jillette ... Penn (as Penn)
Teller ... Teller
Caitlin Clarke ... Carlotta / Officer McNamara (as Celia McGuire)
David Patrick Kelly ... The Fan
Leonardo Cimino ... Ernesto
Celia McGuire Celia McGuire ... Officer McNamara
Bill Randolph ... Floor Director
John Miller ... Steve the bandleader
Ellen Whyte Ellen Whyte ... Makeup Woman
Ted Neustadt Ted Neustadt ... Bob the host
Tudor Sherrard Tudor Sherrard ... 1st Frat Boy
Billy Morrissette ... 2nd Frat Boy
Jon Cryer ... 3rd Frat Boy
Leonard Parker Leonard Parker ... Airport Porter
Christopher Durang 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

Taglines:

What more do you want?

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Broma fatal See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Black and White (one scene)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where Teller is being held down with ropes by audience members, the one closest to Penn Jillette is James Randi, aka "The Amazing Randi". A close friend and mentor, Randi wrote the book "The Faith Healers" and exposed psychic doctors to the public, a driving plot point in the film. See more »

Goofs

When Penn, Teller and Officer McNamara watch the P&T compilation video at the crazed fan's apartment, the video has scenes of "Weekend Live" from the beginning of the film where Penn is seated left on the couch and Teller on the right from the camera's point-of-view. But in the fan's video of the same segment, Teller is seated on the left and Penn on the right. See more »

Quotes

Penn: Commie bastard, I'll show you distribution of wealth!
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 »


Soundtracks

Subterranean Homesick Blues
(as"Mediterranean Homesick Blues")
Written by Bob Dylan
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Works as an introduction and a terrific gift for fans
7 October 2013 | by StevePulaskiSee 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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