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Another You

Sometimes you have to wonder if bygone screen legends somehow lose their talents along the way, or just their filters. How else can we explain Another You (1991), the fourth and final screen pairing of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder? It's loud, it's dismal, and it just ain't funny — a sad state of affairs, considering those involved. Pryor, who never had an A-list film career, nonetheless stands as one of the most vibrant and influential stand-up comics of the 20th century. Wilder's early association with Mel Brooks gave him a series of great roles, including The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles (co-written by Pryor). Audiences enjoyed seeing Pryor and Wilder ham it up in Silver Streak and Stir Crazy, but Another You is almost as pitiable as visiting relatives in a nursing home — one realizes we never will see the old spark again. Pryor stars as L.A. con-man Eddie Dash, who usually stays one step ahead of the law but finds himself on the hook for community service. He volunteers to help a needy person locate a new apartment, only to be paired with George (Wilder), a passive-aggressive compulsive liar who's just been released from a sanitarium after three years of therapy. And before one really knows what's going on, people are calling George "Abe," he moves into a spacious mansion with a wife he does not recognize (Mercedes Ruehl), and a sneaky lawyer (Stephen Lang) plots a fiendish financial scheme. Perhaps what's most unfortunate about Another You is that, despite being a Hollywood movie, nobody bothered to write it or direct it. The script (credited to Ziggy Steinberg) never bothers to derive comedy from the plot itself, threadbare as it may be, and instead trundles along from one silly situation to the next. Directors are expected to keep their cast in check, particularly talented comedians, but Maurice Phillips allows tedious little scenes to drag on for minutes at a time to little effect (except to remind us that somehow Pryor and Wilder used to be a lot funnier). What we're left with is such asinine moments as Wilder yodeling in a nightclub, having repeated nervous breakdowns, and talking to a black bear in the woods. For his part, Pryor's general health at this point is obviously on the decline, forcing him to react to Wilder's unconstrained energy rather than participate in it. Meanwhile, Kevin Pollack gets a bit part as a mental patient who does celebrity impressions — which is as lame as it sounds and the funniest stuff to be found in the whole dreadful, painful 93 minutes of scotched celluloid. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Another You features a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Bonus trailers, keep-case.

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