Also known as: The Three Caballeros (working title), ¡Three Amigos! (UK spelling)
Release Date: December 10th, 1986 (Beverly Hills premiere)
Directed by: John Landis
Written by: Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Randy Newman
Music by: Elmer Bernstein, Randy Newman (song lyrics)
Cast: Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Alfonso Arau, Tony Plana, Patrice Martinez, Joe Mantegna, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz
L.A. Films, HBO Films, Broadway Video, Orion Pictures, 104 Minutes
“You dirt-eating piece of slime! You scum-sucking pig! You son of a motherless goat!” – Lucky Day
When I was a kid, I probably saw this movie two dozen times between renting it and seeing it on HBO. It featured three of the funniest guys of the era (and ever, really), it was a bizarre concept but it also had action and heroism. When my mum brought back sombreros from a Mexican cruise, my cousins and I used to play “Three Amigos” in the backyard.
Now after exposing my absolute dorkiness in the ’80s, I still really enjoy this movie and kind of wish that stuff like this could still be made. Hopefully, Hollywood’s pendulum swings back towards sanity and fun in the near future.
Anyway, the story sees three singing cowboy actors from the earliest era of film getting called down to Mexico because they’re mistaken for their characters. The Mexican village is under the threat of a warlord and the people summoned the Three Amigos for protection. However, the actors have just been fired by the studio after a box office failure and are under the assumption that their trip to Mexico is an acting gig. Once there, they slowly figure out what’s happening, want to flee but then rise to the occasion and help the village free themselves from tyranny.
The best part about the film is that the three comedians have incredible chemistry. While all three very easily could’ve succumbed to their own egos and desire to be the movie’s one true star, they gel as an ensemble in a way that is similar to the casts of Ghostbusters and Tropic Thunder. While I’ve heard for years that Chevy Chase was a hard guy to work with, if that was true on this picture, it didn’t effect the final product.
Overall, this is a lighthearted, fun movie. The action is great for a comedic picture and I think the action really made this a much cooler film, especially for those of us who grew up with this.
Looking at it through a modern lens, the film serves as a reminder that we could have entertaining, mindless escapism and not feel guilty about it. Three Amigos! was (and is) a movie that just wanted to entertain its audience and make them not think about the world and its problems for 104 minutes. I wish Hollywood would tell stories like this again and just lay off of their political/social agendas from the point-of-view of a fantasy land that’s the furthest place away from reality.