Three Fugitives (1989) starring Nick Nolte, Martin Short, Sarah Rowland Doroff, James Earl Jones, Alan Ruck directed by Francis Veber Movie Review

Three Fugitives (1989)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Martin Short and Nick Nolte in Three Fugitives (1989)

On the Crawl

Having served 5 years for 14 armed robberies Lucas (Nick Nolte) is out on parole and has plans of going straight despite being greeted off the ferry by Detective Dugan (James Earl Jones) who tells him he looks forward to catching him again. But Lucas finds himself a victim of a bank robbery when desperate father Ned (Martin Short) tries to rob a bank for the first time to get the money he needs to treat his daughter who hasn't spoken for two years since her mother died. Not only inept Ned takes Lucas hostage which Dugan finds impossible to believe and thinks he is behind it all forcing Lucas, Ned and his daughter Meg (Sarah Rowland Doroff) to go on the run.

Sometimes I think that those behind movies should take the brave decision and decide not to make a movie but use a killer idea for a one off sketch. It is how I feel about "Three Fugitives" because the opening 20 minutes are so good that what follows doesn't live up to it and those opening 20 minutes would have been brilliant as a sketch in their own right. Those opening 20 minutes not only sees Dugan drive Lucas to the bank but the inept efforts of Ned to rob the bank which one gag after another from a splitting mask to taking Lucas as a hostage.

James Earl Jones and Alan Ruck in Three Fugitives (1989)

But as I said the rest of the movie after the opening doesn't live up to the amusing opening and whilst it still has some good laughs it ends forgettable as it is one mishap chase after another. Having said that the more you think about "Three Fugitives" after it is finished the more funny scenes you remember none more so than when Ned takes Lucas to a vet friend to remove a bullet and he treats Lucas like a dog. Plus it has a surprisingly cute side involving the mute Meg and the gruff Lucas.

The thing which makes "Three Fugitives" so much fun is the casting of Nick Nolte and Martin Short. Short delivers the nervous, quirky comedy which was his trademark at the back end of the 80s and it is still a lot of fun now. But that works brilliantly with Nolte playing it gruff and exasperated by being saddled with such an inept criminal. These two spark off of each other so brilliantly that it is a surprise they didn't end up in more movies together.

What this all boils down to is that "Three Fugitives" will put a big smile on your face if you are a lover of 80s comedies. But it is a case that whilst Martin Short and Nick Nolte work well together the actual set up is so good that the rest of the movie doesn't quite live up to the same comedic standards.