French comedy maestro Francis Veber directs this Hollywood remake of his own film The Fugitives (Les Fugitifs) casting Martin Short and Nick Nolte in the roles formerly played by Pierre Richard and Gerard Depardieu.
The film sees Lucas (Nolte), an ex-bank robber, finally come out of prison after five years only to find himself being taken hostage by a bumbling thief who happened to be robbing the bank he was depositing money in minutes after his release. Ned (Short), the thief in question, was attempting to steal enough money to pay for a special school his daughter, who was left mute after the death of her mother, was attending. Unfortunately, the robbery goes awry as he shoots Lucas in the leg accidentally, crashes the getaway car and gets kidnapped by some crooks. Lucas finds himself in the awkward position of having to prove his own innocence while helping Ned and his daughter escape from both criminals and the law.
Casting Nick Nolte and Martin Short in those roles was inspired as one could not have hoped for a better match for the original Richard/Depardieu duo. Short proves once again how he was wrongly underused in movies, effortlessly delivering slapstick gold throughout, while Nolte provides a welcome contrast. The script and the jokes translate really well from the original and the whole thing is very entertaining and very funny from start to finish. Whether it's Nolte being treated like a dog by a senile veterinarian or Short pretending to be a pregnant woman in order to cross the Canadian border, Three Fugitives is never dull. And even if the whole little girl thing has its corny moments, the film is charming enough to make it work.
The good news is Veber doesn't short-change the American audiences as he gives his remake the same amount of attention he gave the original and the result is something equally good. Much like Father's Day was about as good as his own Les Comperes, in fact. This is one clever little comedy that's well worth checking out, as is its French counterpart.
A lot of fun.