One question I need to ask! How can three legends of comedy fail so miserably? Not saying that John Landis’ cult classic ‘¡Three Amigos!’ is all that terrible (the film manages to be enjoyable in its goofy swagger), but if you have the likes of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and an up-and-comer named Martin Short at the center of your comedy, you would expect something gut-bustingly funny! For some audiences, ‘¡Three Amigos!’ is a riot of silly proportions, but for most, this western parody goes between the ranks of ridiculous and mediocre.
Throughout the movie, I was wondering when the laughs would begin and the joy would enter my body. It was not until the late second or early third act when I just rolled with the punches and accepted ‘¡Three Amigos!’ for what it was; a comedy that went the extra lengths to see how ridiculous it could get. Most of the credit goes to Martin, ‘Saturday Night Live’ producer Lorne Michaels, and ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ crooner Randy Newman for writing ‘¡Three Amigos!’; some of it feels like a long-running sketch that came from the show, while at times, it also feels like it could run into musical territory (Newman even provided his voice as a literal singing bush the Amigos come across).
At its heart, ‘¡Three Amigos!’ is a cheesy send-up of classic Westerns; even the beginning feels like it belongs to a different movie. In case you have not seen this movie, and were not aware of its concept; ‘¡Three Amigos!’ is set in the Mexican village of Santo Poco; the year is 1916; bandit El Guapo (Alfonso Arau) is terrorizing its residents, especially young Carmen (Patrice Martinez), who stumbles upon a mini-theater showcasing the three amigos as heroes, not knowing that they are silent film actors known as Lucky Day (Martin), Dusty Bottoms (Chase), and Ned Nederlander (Short).
Meanwhile in Hollywood, Day, Bottoms, and Nederlander are both disgraced after one of their most recent pictures becomes a flop. Soon, their luck seems to change when they receive a distress letter from Carmen, believing it to be a chance to perform for a live audience; they then travel to the town, where (after all the singing and dancing) realize that the situation they are faced with is a real one.
‘¡Three Amigos!’ could have been the laugh riot, or comedy classic that everyone made it out to be. Sadly, it became too goofy to hit any laughs.