Genre Grandeur – Stir Crazy (1980) – Mini Media Reviews

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Prison Films, here’s a review of Stir Crazy (1980) by Gavin of Mini Media Reviews

Thanks again to Jay of Life Vs. Film for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Ryan of Ten Stars or Less.  We will be reviewing our favorite Boston Film(s).

According to Ryan’s research, this is probably the best list of movies set in Boston

Here is what appears to be the official/unofficial list of everything related to Boston movies

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Apr by sending them to

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Ryan!

Let’s see what Gavin thought of this movie:


Stir Crazy (1980)


With loads of great films that could have made the list (I very nearly wrote on one of my favourite films: A Prophet, Jacques Audiard’s 2009 French language, dark and visceral drama about rising through the inmate hierarchy), I have chosen a film that has stayed with me for a long time and that film is…… Stir Crazy!

Stir Crazy tells the story of two friends, Skip (Gene Wilder) and Harry (Richard Pryor), as they are fired from their jobs in New York and decide to move to Hollywood. On their way they take bit part jobs to make ends meet and, whilst in Arizona, they are promoting a bank dressed up as Woodpeckers performing a song and dance. When they are taking a break, two men steal their costumes and rob the bank. Finding themselves arrested, they are processed through the courts and handed 125 year sentences to be spent in a maximum-security prison, where they find themselves mingling with serial killers, bank robbers and axe murderers and the guards aren’t much better, lead by the excellent Craig T Nelson and warden Barry Corbin.

An absurd inter-prison rodeo is the main focus for those in charge and they use and abuse the inmates for their own monetary gain. Again, unlikely hero Skip finds himself as the leading rodeo rider for his prison and is pressured into competing for the warden, but manages to resist until he gets some repayment for himself and his friends.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were a match made in heaven, bouncing off each other so well and in great contrast. They are by far the leading lights in this film and do an excellent job of playing the out-of-their-comfort-zone guys, leading to some ridiculous situations and some truly 80s style hilarity. With Harry worrying about everything whilst Skip is more accepting and rising above it all, seemingly without a care in the world and managing to annoy Nelson’s hard-ass guard with every failed attempt at breaking him it just works on so many levels.

Surprisingly it was directed by Sidney Poitier, unbeknownst to me before writing this piece but he does a superb job of fitting it all together to create the underlying tension of the situation and the ever increasing absurdity around the central characters.

This may not be a hard hitting prison drama but it is one of the more entertaining prison films that I have seen and well worth watching again. And again!

One thought on “Genre Grandeur – Stir Crazy (1980) – Mini Media Reviews

  1. Pingback: Genre Grandeur March Finale – White Heat (1949) – Life Vs. Film |

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