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Movie Reviews : Pryor, Wilder Team Up for More Funny Business

“See No Evil, Hear No Evil” (citywide) is an apt title for this brisk, ingenious and funny comedy that happily reunites Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. Pryor’s Wally is blind, and he is as proudly stubborn about acknowledging his disability as Wilder’s Dave is about admitting that he is totally deaf. They skirmish mightily upon meeting each other, but Dave recognizes enough of himself in Wally to hire him as an assistant at his Manhattan lobby newsstand.

Wally doesn’t even have a chance to start work before he and his new boss are swept up in non-stop adventure.

A spectacular brunette (Joan Severance) coolly leaves a bullet-riddled corpse in front of the newsstand. Wally and Dave are the prime suspects. Director Arthur Hiller, who first teamed the duo in the 1976 “Silver Streak,” and a raft of writers (Wilder among them) not only never let up with a steady stream of comic catastrophes but also manage to have fun with Wally and Dave in a way that makes them seem like heroes, full-fledged participants in the human comedy that engages us all. The crazy gags and predicaments are never at their expense; the film deftly shows how the two men need to accept their limitations before being able to triumph over them. Part of this process is their realization of their need for each other’s friendship.

All of these sentiments, be assured, are left to subtext as the film careens merrily along. Pryor has a wonderful comic moment when necessity dictates that he pass himself off as a Swedish authority on geriatric sex, complete with yumpin’ yimminy accent. This is just the broad mainstream comedy that both stars need in the wake of recent less-than-terrific pictures. They play off each other better than ever, and the good-looking “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” (rated R for raunchy language, some nudity) leaves us hoping we haven’t seen the last of Wally and Dave. Maybe next time around there will be time for them to find girlfriends.

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