Film Review: ¡Three Amigos!
In 1986, John Landis released ¡Three Amigos!, which starred Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Alfonso Arau, Tony Plana, Patrice Martinez, Joe Mantegna, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Tino Insana, Loyda Ramos, Phillip Gordon, Kai Wulff, Norbert Weisser, Brian Thompson, Randy Newman, and Rebecca Underwood. The film grossed $39.2 million at the box office and has become a cult classic with Bravo ranking it #79 on its list of top 100 comedy movies.
Dusty Bottoms, Lucky Day and Ned Nederlander are a trio of silent film actors known as the Three Amigos. They’ve been mistaken for real heroes and are hired to protect a small Mexican village from El Guapo and his group of bandits. While they show up, they mistakenly believe they’re merely supposed to put on a show for the townspeople. However, it’s not until it’s too late that the trio realize the whole thing is real.
Another fast-paced farcical comedy, ¡Three Amigos! is a good and very funny film to which other films have paid homage many times over. True, there have been plenty of cases where the main characters are mistaken for someone they’re not, the way Carmen does so is actually pretty interesting and makes sense considering she’s probably never been in a movie house having been from a small Mexican village. However, the film really gets going after the Amigos arrive and find out that it’s not a show the villagers want them to put on, but that they really believe them to be great heroes and they really want them to get rid of bandits terrorizing them. It’s a decent enough plot that’s really carried by the amount of humor the film brings to the table, not only in the misunderstanding and farce that comes from the main plot but all the silliness and absurdity that the audience is thrown. Also, while it may be a plot hole, the fact that the villagers were able to have enough weapons to trick the bandits at the end is funny.
From the subversion of how the villagers believe the Amigos to be great heroes when they’re only actors to everything that happens in the climax, there’s a lot of humor to be found in this film and it notably all lands on its feet. Take the moment the Amigos realize they’re not putting on a show, but that El Guapo and his men actually are bandits. Their crying and pleading for their lives is hilarious due to the sudden shift between how they were acting beforehand to the cowards they really are at the time. There’s also the point before the Amigos make it to the village, when the entire bar thinks they’re the German’s friends and instead of being menacing, they put on a show by singing “My Little Buttercup.” The absurd humor is great too, from Dusty shooting the invisible swordsman to the horses joining in on the song when the group is bedding down for the night.
As characters, the Amigos are pretty interesting and go through a notable character arc throughout the film. They start off as actors who have the whole world handed to them and think they got lucky after being fired. However, after letting the villagers down simply because they are only actors, they decide to actually become the heroes the villagers think they are and it b
works because the Amigos actually did their own stunts in their films and knew how to ride horses, trick shoot, throw knives, quick draw and go through with some pretty risky stunts. Further, when all is said and done, they repeat word for word what they say at the end of their films and refuse the fee, showing that what they originally did for the money, they ended up doing because it was the right thing.
Notably, El Guapo is also a fascinating character. He leads a group of bandits and is a pretty nasty villain, but is a pretty cultured person, engaging in photography and loving a sweater that his men got for his birthday. At the same time, El Guapo even treats his men like equals and devises a clever test to figure out if his second in command is just being a yes man by having him agree that there are a plethora of piñatas when said second in command doesn’t even know the definition of a plethora.