“See No Evil, Hear No Evil” in Erasmus+ Project

What a classic comedy can teach about understanding of vision and hearing impairment

Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” (1989)

Erasmus+ project “Entrepreneurial Young Citizens of Modern Europe”

As a part of our activities after the Erasmus+ mobility in Budapest focused on visually impaired people, we were supposed to watch one of the suggested movies and present our  impressions in a review.  The activities in Budapest were a part of our third mobility within Erasmus+ Projects called “Entrepreneurial Young Citizens of Modern Europe” (EYCME).  The main idea of EYCME is to find out more about what the life of disabled people is really like in order to raise awareness about true integration of those people in their local community.  Working in small companies students from 4 EU countries have performed various activities and organized numerous events to achieve these goals. Watching movies based on the idea of living a life of people with fewer opportunities and writing our reviews on them enabled us to compare our experiences, with both our schoolmates and our European friends.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

See No Evil, Hear No Evil is a 1989 American comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller. The film stars Richard Pryor as a blind man and Gene Wilder as a deaf man who work together to catch a trio of murderous thieves. It takes place in New York, year 1989. Somewhat agressive blind Wally (Richard Pryor) and mild-mannered, cute deaf Dave (Gene Wilder) form a working partnership based partly on mutual regard and partly on desperation. A man is killed at the counter of their cigar store and neither of them can quite account for their actions or identify the killer, Eve (Joan Severance). They find themselves arrested and subsequently on the run. Eve and her henchman Kirgo (Kevin Spacey) pursue them remorselessly, searching for a gold coin that is more and less than it appears.

“One’s blind. The other’s deaf. The girl’s a killer. And they’re in it over their heads

TriStar Pictures was looking to produce another film starring Wilder and Pryor, but Wilder would only agree to do See No Evil, Hear No Evil if he was allowed to re-write the script. The studio agreed and See No Evil, Hear No Evil premiered in May 1989 to mostly negative reviews. Many critics praised Wilder’s, Pryor’s, and Kevin Spacey’s performances, but they mostly agreed that the script was absolutely terrible. Roger Ebert called it “a real dud”, the Deseret Morning News described the film as “stupid”, with an “idiotic script” that had a “contrived story” and too many “juvenile gags.” On the other hand Vincent Canby called it “by far the most successful co-starring vehicle for Mr. Pryor and Mr. Wilder”, while also acknowledging that “this is not elegant movie making, and not all of the gags are equally clever.” The film holds a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 29 critics. Despite the negative reviews, the film was a box office success for its time, able to stay at number one for two weeks.

Educational aspects of the film

It is an entertaining comedy with a number of goofs. We liked the part when Wally and Dave cooperated to escape from the police, but there were also a lot of unnecessary dialogues. Generally speaking, this movie shows what deaf and visually impaired people are capable of. In this aspect it is very useful and inspiring and the reason why we would recommend it to everyone. All things considered, it is neither good nor bad. The movie is leaning more towards the good side, but some scenes are dull. We grade it 3.5/5 because some things are not realistic. We think some jokes were a little bit offensive and we did not find them funny because playing disability for slapstick is perhaps not the most enlightened way to increase understanding of various disabilities.

Written by Lucija Weh and Lara Juras, both currently attending High School of Economics in Djakovo, Croatia. Apart from being successful at school (average grade A), they like sports, good movies and travelling.

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