A lot of critics usually denounce Richard Pryor’s films for not containing the rawness that he embodied in his stand-up act. I dunno. As a kid, I always liked him in The Toy and especially in Superman 3, but that’s because I was too young to fully appreciate his stand-up work. I admit his films and his stand-up are as different as night and day, but if you can set aside your memories of his foul mouthed incendiary persona and just accept him as a comedic “actor” they go down a lot smoother.
With Some Kind of Hero, Pryor did something a little bit different. In it, he mixed the laughs with a more believable dramatic story and was able to infuse his character with occasional flashes of his trademark humor his fans know and love. Now he had done straight-up dramas before (check him out in Paul Schrader’s excellent Blue Collar), but in Some Kind of Hero, Pryor walks the tightrope between comedy and drama and while the film isn’t entirely successful, it hits home more often than not.
Pryor plays an American soldier who gets captured by the Viet Kong while trying to take a shit in the jungle. He’s placed in a POW camp and when he comes home to the
Some Kind of Hero may not be as well known as some of Pryor’s other films, but he has some of his best moments of his entire career in this movie. Consider the scene where he learns for the first time that he has a daughter. I’m not much into sappy sentimentalism, but even I got choked up at the tenderness and outright joy Pryor projected in that scene. Or his tearful reunion with his wife and his subsequent enragement upon learning she has found a new lover. Or his heart wrenching speech he gives during his homecoming press conference. These are just some of the dramatic highlights featured within the film. Compared to the more realistic elements in the film, the comedy seems a tad inconsistent, but the movie still contains some hearty laughs, particularly during the POW camp portion of the film.
Some Kind of Hero may peter out towards the end when it succumbs into needless clichés, but Pryor fans wanting to see another dimension to the gifted comedian’s persona will definitely want to check it out. The cast is well rounded, with Kidder and Ronny (Robocop) Cox lending fine support.
Director Michael Pressman balances the laughs and the downbeat aspects of the film and makes them work more often than not. Pressman had a highly erratic career, directing everything from low comedies like Doctor Detroit to utter dreck like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze.
For more information regarding the upcoming DVD release of Some Kind of Hero, as well as Legend Films’ other forthcoming movies, go to www.legendfilms.net.