8/5/16

CRITICAL CONDITION - REVIEW


Richard Pryor stars in Critical Condition, a comedy from 1987 in which he plays Eddie, a man arrested following a run-in with some dodgy characters who attempts to fake an insanity plea in order to stay out of prison.

As a storm hits the hospital he'd been transferred to, the power goes out and he has to pretend to be a doctor in order to escape. Unfortunately, he soon finds he can't go anywhere while the storm is going on and is forced to really try being a doctor until it clears up, which obviously proves hit-and-miss, to say the least. Like with Brewster's Millions, Pryor is provided with a funny, simple concept and he makes the most of it. As both Eddie and his alter-ego Dr Kevin Slattery, Pryor does a great job in his usual off-beat way, throwing funny lines effortlessly and stumbling wide-eyed through difficult situations. Like The Couch Trip, the film is not a laugh riot throughout but the characters and scenarios are random and likeable enough to keep you entertained throughout.

There's a lot going on in this movie as not only is Eddie masquerading as a doctor but the patients are being put to work, Joe Mantegna's hospital administrator is held hostage by Eddie's friends in the mental ward and an escaped convict is lurking around. The latter plot point could have probably been put aside as its only purpose is to provide a more intense third act: up until the very end the bad guy is pretty much dormant. That said, it does give Eddie a chance to truly redeem himself and, in fact, the film's more serious, heartfelt moments are handled surprisingly well. The cast also includes Rachel Ticotin, Bob Dishy, Bob Saget (of all people) and look out for Wesley Snipes in an early, very minor role.

It's not always focused but Critical Condition remains a fun comedy with Richard Pryor on good form. It's funny but also cares enough about its characters to not devolve into pure farce so I'd say it's worth checking out.

Pretty good.

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