The Stupids

on August 30, 1996 by Lea Russo
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   Ignorance must be bliss. How else could the makers of "The Stupids" even look themselves in the eye after producing a film that makes "Dumb & Dumber" seem like Oscar material? Lacking in wit and devoid of meaning, "The Stupids" won't even make the kids laugh--at least not very often. Why New Line acquired this out of the hoary Savoy library isn't certain, but it's certain that the laughs here are mostly on the audience.
   In a role that might seem typecast, Tom Arnold plays Mr. Stanley Stupid, a rollerblading, leisure suit-wearing idiot who can't even figure out how to start his car. His darling wife (Jessica Lundy) and children aren't much brighter. When Stanley stumbles upon a corrupt military official selling weapons to mobsters, he and his family begin an inane adventure. Along the way, the Stupids mistake an elevator for a time machine, a janitor for God, and an observatory for Heaven. A trivial subplot involving aliens only adds to the ridiculousness.
   Comedy director John Landis strove to create a campy, cartoonish film for kids. The humor, however, is sure to insult even the youngest ones' intelligence. "Someone's been stealing our trash," says Mr. Stupid, who immediately follows the garbage collector to the dump, only to be amazed that "everyone's trash is being stolen." The sight gags, including Tom Arnold struggling with a tire tube, are mediocre at best. And the film's mixed messages are a cross between "make fun of dumb people" and "dumb people are okay, too." Perhaps the filmmakers weren't sure where they stood. Starring Tom Arnold, Jessica Lundy, Bug Hall and Alex Mckenna. Directed by John Landis. Written by Brent Forrester. Produced by Leslie Belzberg. A New Line release. Comedy. Rated PG for some violence. Running time: 90 min
Tags: John Landis, adaptation, slapstick, broad comedy, Brent Forrester, Tom Arnold
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