Three Amigos: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)16 Dec, 2011 By: John Latchem
Stars Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short.
Aside from a few successes such as The Blues Brothers or Wayne’s World, movies based on “Saturday Night Live” sketches have a reputation for being not very good. Then there are the movies that aren’t direct spinoffs of “SNL” sketches, but they might as well be, due to the involvement of the same producers, writers and actors. These generally aren’t that good either, but there have been some memorable efforts over the years, such as Ghostbusters, Austin Powers, Mean Girls and the 1986 Western spoof Three Amigos.
Directed by John Landis, the film teamed “SNL” stalwarts Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short as silent film stars who are mistakenly hired to protect a Mexican village from a gang of banditos, with a script by Martin, “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels and musician Randy Newman, of all people. The plot was later borrowed for Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and, probably more effectively, the “Star Trek” satire Galaxy Quest.
The campy farce blends comedy, music and action effectively as it throws everything at the screen for a laugh, beginning with Newman’s catchy “Ballad of the Three Amigos” and its impossibly long high note. Keep an eye out for future “SNL” stars Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz as sycophants to the pushy studio boss played by Joe Mantegna who kicks the Amigos off the lot.
With its ornate costumes and desert locales, Three Amigos is a flashy film that translates well to Blu-ray. The clarity is pronounced enough to expose a few of the visual effects in the key campfire musical sequence — namely that the horses are able to sing along with animated mouths.
The extras for this 25th anniversary edition are surprisingly light, though appreciated. The most informative is a printed reproduction of a recent reunion interview Landis and the cast did with Empire magazine.
The disc includes a five-minute interview with Chase, Martin and Short taped in 1986, in which the trio ruminate about the state of their careers at that point, allowing Martin to tease his upcoming film Roxanne, while Short throws in a plug for Innerspace, an underappreciated sci-fi yarn that would hit the next year.
Aficionados might have more appreciation for the deleted scenes section. Most of the film’s deleted footage was trashed in the late ’80s, since prior to DVD it didn’t occur to the studios that anyone would be interested in seeing what was cut from a movie. But some introductory text informs us of subplots involving an Amigos backlot rivalry with an actress named Miss Rene (Fran Drescher), and a sequence with Sam Kinison as a cannibal. The only remnants of the Miss Rene subplot in the final version appear on billboards listing her as a co-star of the Amigos’ most recent film, Those Darn Amigos, the box office failure of which prompts the studio disagreement that sends the Amigos into Mexico.
While most of this was lost, producers did manage to extract 19 minutes of excised footage from an early exhibition print, including an alternate opening from before the Amigos song was added, as well as more footage of the Amigos hanging around the studio.