Three Amigos (1986)

three amigos poster 1986 movie steve martin chevy chase martin short
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Clever parody of classic Western movies

Not everyone's bag

Movie Info

Movie Name: Three Amigos

Studio: L.A. Films

Genre(s): Comedy/Western/Musical

Release Date(s):  December 10, 1986 (Premiere)/December 12, 1986 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

three amigos campfire steve martin short chevy chase

Ah…the glories of wilderness

The town of Santo Poco is being menace by the dreaded bandit El Guapo (Alfonso Arau) and his men.  When Carmen (Patrice Martinez) sees a movie of the silent movie stars Three Amigos, she sends a letter to the Amigos Lucky Day (Steve Martin), Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase), and Ned Nederlander (Martin Short) with the promise of a payment.  Misconstruing the message and desperate for money, the Three Amigos head to Mexico…and find themselves pegged as unlikely heroes for the village.

Directed by John Landis and written by Steve Martin, Randy Newman, and Lorne Michaels, Three Amigos (stylized as ¡Three Amigos!) is a Western comedy with musical aspects.  The film was initially panned upon its release but gained a cult following and reassessment over the years.

I’ll be honest, Three Amigos wasn’t one of my movies growing up.  It gained an audience from repeat showing on cable (we didn’t have cable), and I would only see bits and pieces of it over the years.  I totally understand why the movie bombed, but I also see why it is a cult classic now.

three amigos ned nederlander martin short riding

Giddy up!

The movie has a lot of post-modern aspects that weren’t common in the films of Chevy Chase and weren’t always prominent in Steve Martin’s films (though definitely an aspect).  The movie is parody of classic Western films with the white heroes riding in and saving the day.  Instead of being heroic, they are winners mostly by dumb luck.  There is also a musical element to the film which fits many of the Westerns being parody where a song and dance numbers were often weirdly shoehorned into the stories.  It works in the context of this movie to become a fun farce, but audiences might not have expected it in 1986.

The cast is at their best.  Steve Martin delivers his style of humor with the timing and class which made him famous.  Chevy Chase is also in classic form (though years of reports of difficult behavior from the actor have tainted him a bit for me).  Martin Short as the optimistic member of the Amigos is also fun (and it was his first starring role), and the beginning of the film features cameos from Jon Lovitz, Joe Mantegna, and Phil Hartman.

three amigos captured lucky day steve martin

I demand your surrender!

The movie takes its visuals cues from a lot of Westerns (though it probably makes more use of physical locations than sets that many of the cheaper Westerns did).  Scenes like the fireside song and chat with the set backdrop are probably more in line and as a result actually work a bit better than some of the “real” locations (I do like the shooting style of horses ride around with the fixed camera on Short, Martin, and Chase).

Three Amigos is a fun movie if you can give in to the premise.  If you are a fan of any of the actors involved, you’ll also like the movie.  While I consider it one of their “lesser” films (I’ll always watch The Jerk or Vacation before this), it is still an entertaining film.  Wherever there is injustice, you will find us. Wherever there is suffering, we’ll be there!  Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find…the Three Amigos!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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