One of the most memorable moments in the documentary Life Itself is a clip of Roger Ebert telling Johnny Carson how much he disliked the movie ¡Three Amigos!—while ¡Three Amigos! star Chevy Chase was sitting right next to him. It’s a funny example of Ebert’s fearlessness and Chase’s dickishness, and yet, to this day, I still believe Ebert missed the boat on that particular film. Not that ¡Three Amigos! doesn’t have problems. It’s a strange, slack little comedy, about three moronic silent-movie cowboys—played by Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short—who help the overly stereotyped inhabitants of a Mexican village. But Short’s and Martin’s affection for old-time showbiz is consistently charming, and the film is studded with great lines and bits: Martin making a “lookuphere!” bird call to get his amigos’ attention; Chase pouring water all over his face while his amigos’ canteens are dry; the amigos summoning an invisible swordsman whom Chase accidentally shoots; the plethora of piñatas; and the helpful tip that you can always spot a mail-plane by looking for its little balls. These actors clearly had fun making this movie, and their joy is infectious (for those with a susceptibility to it, anyway). ¡Three Amigos! airs on HDNet Movies tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, and again at 10.
August 12, 2014 newsreel