Stir Crazy is a movie about two friends in search of better lives leaving rude New York, after losing their jobs, to go to Hollywood for better jobs, less stress, and girls. Along the way they are mistaken for bank robbers and thrown in jail where they devise a plot and break out. The movie opens with a montage of people doing untoward things to each other in New York: a woman gets her heel stuck in a grate and there is a man “trying to help her” who fondles her, a woman and a man are hailing a cab. The cabby stops for the woman and the man get in the cab too making the woman get out and she flips him off.
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Richard Pryor is a waiter at a swanky party. He is serving the guests when a few ask for seconds. He goes to order the food from the kitchen where the cook and the waitress are talking about oregano. The cook wants more of the herb in the food and the waitress says she has already put a lot in. When the waitress goes for the oregano she used the cook says that it is not the oregano. The waitress had accidentally gotten Harry's stash of weed from his bag and had put a lot of it in the food.
Skip Donahue(Gene Wilder) is in a store when he recognizes an actress. The actress is hostile and tells him to bug off. He is the store detective and he knows she is stealing.
Meanwhile, the cook is upset about likely losing her customer. Pryor is comically complaining about his weed.
The actress is super upset and continues to storm off.
Meanwhile the party is getting strange because everyone is high. They think it is the wine because they do not know they ate weed. People are saying things and doing things they normally wouldn't.
The scene switches to a girl dancing in a bar. Skip comes in the bar and sits next to Harry Monroe(Richard Pryor). They both got fired on the same day at the same time. The dancing girl comes over and kisses Skip but Skip does not introduce her to Harry. Her name is Nancy(Donna Benz).
Skip starts talking about their new found freedom and he says it is a good chance to get out of the city. Then a fight breaks out and Skip says it is the cities doing. Skip tries to mediate the situation not realizing that the smaller guy has the bigger man's testicles in a vice.
Skip is idealistic and Pryor is pessimistic about Skip's idea about leaving New York but he is convinced and off they go. They set out to Hollywood for jobs and women, a new life. They find a busted up van and make it to Glenboro before they break down. The auto bill is 150, a big dent in their bankroll. Skip is still optimistic though. They go to a bar and talk. Skip loves the town and bar and is inspired by the locals and goes to talk to them a couple of guys punching a punching bag. Harry is nervous. Skip asks them about jobs but the guys are not super interested in talking to him. The guys react aggressively and Harry comes to the rescue. However, Skip was successful in getting them a job.
They are get a job as dancing wood peckers at a bank. They take off their costumes and get lunch
Two men who aren't Harry and Skip put the costumes on and rob the bank while Harry and Skip are out to lunch. They are oblivious. The robbers get away in their van.
When they return Harry is reluctant to see what the commotion is about. They are identified by someone and taken to jail.
Harry is upset. While walking down the corridor Harry tries to establish his "badness" in jail and suggests Skip do the same. They do so comically. They continue to try and establish they are bad in the holding cell.
A guy who is obviously seeing things whacks another guy's head. The tough guy retaliates hitting the wrong fella, but defuses the situation by giving the angered party a joint. He asks Skip and Harry for a light and hilariously Harry obliges. They converse about their charges and they are told about kissing the baby and it is suggested they talk to their lawyer about it. Slowpoke, who is a motor mouth, explains it along with a lot of other things. Skip and Harry don't understand a word of it.
Skip is recording the situation on paper. At this time Skip is still oblivious and is optimistic. They meet their lawyer, Len Garber(Joel Brooks), soon after.
On the way to court they talk to their lawyer about their innocence. The defendants are found guilty. They are sentenced to 125 years. They're shocked and still say the are innocent. They are clearly and rightly upset.
On the way to the jail they talk about an appeal and are still upset.
They are taken to Glenboro State Prison. Skip is treated roughly and isn't used to to. He is still obliviously optimistic. Skip meets helpful Jesus(Miquel Angel Suarez) who talks to him and tries to help him get the rhythm of walking with chains on. Jesus tells his story. He used to rob banks. Harry meets a homosexual named Sweetpants (Georg Stanford Brown) who hits one him and is disturbed.
In class taking a test Skip again tries to talk again but this time to the teacher. The guard is rough with him again. Skip tells the guard he is going to lose his patience and the guard does not listen and Skip threatens him.
Skip is finally starting to understand that he is in prison when the sees the cells. Harry tells him to be strong but Skip thinks he wont make it. Harry encourages him. Skip tries to talk to the guard. Skip pretty much loses his mind and has a panic attack and then attacks the guard hilariously. Harry tries to help him and calms Skip down
Harry loses his mind then Skip also calms him down. Skip gives the guard a hug and they go to their cells.
In the dinner line Harry jokingly asks the worker for a malt, spare ribs and a burger but is rudely given rice. Sweetpants, the guy who he met in the line while coming in the building, tells him that he can get some of those things for Harry. Harry tells him he wants nothing from him.
Skip is optimistic about the food but Harry is not.
Grossberger, a mass murder, intimidates his way into a private table. Skip asks about him and hears his story. Skip thinks it is a good idea to go talk to the guy even after hearing about how the man had murdered his family. Grossberger(Erland Van Lidth) growls at Skip and Skip runs away.
In the exercise yard Skip and Harry are walking together. A group of guys are teach one guy a lesson about not paying protection then time. That is the first time you see Graham(Jonathan Banks).
The guards turn a blind eye. Skip asks about him and they find out the guy can kill you or get anything you want. Skip is uninterested. Sweetpants points out the guy he is going to get Harry's burger from, Blade(Charles Weldon) and asks how he likes it cooked. Harry tries to refuse.
Skip and Sweetpants go to find Skip.
Skip and Harry are go to talk to the warden. Skip has a list of things he wants to talk about Harry tries to talk sense into Skip as a man is tossed out of the office. They are ushered inside. Skip addresses the warden. The guard(Craig T Nelson) is hostile but the warden(Barry Corbin) is a little nicer. Skip is instructed to get on a mechanical bull and comically gets on it the wrong way a couple of times before getting it right. It is a test that no one else has done as well on. Skip stays on even after they turn it up to its highest level. The warden is amazed as Harry cheers him on. After that Harry and Skip are sent to their cells not without Skip given the warden his list. The warden and the guard converse. Apparently the warden is involved in the rodeo. He is tired of losing and being embarrassed. He wants Skip to ride in the rodeo for the prison. The guard is instructed to get Skip back in the room in an hour. A conspiracy is uncovered after Skip drops out of a basketball game. Apparently the prisoners
are suppose to benefit from money that is made from the prison rodeo but they do not see the money much. They talk about Skips ride excitedly.
A plan is made to bust out of the prison when Skip rides in the rodeo. The warden calls for Skip. He is on a call to someone and he makes a bet to Henry Sampson(Nicholas Coster). He accepts the bet. Meanwhile Skip listens to the plan to bust out. He is to convince the warden he will not ride and to strike a bargain. He is suppose to request his own crew so they can exploit a weakness and break free.
Skip talks to the warden and refuses his offer. He makes up a story about his mother. He excuses himself. The guard continues advocating for the original prison rodeo start, Graham. The warden tells the guard to straighten out Skip.
A couple guards go to his cell and wake up Skip and Harry. Skip and Harry are assigned hard labor, lifting, hauling, and digging without water. After being lead back to their cell. Skip keeps a brave face in-front of the guards but is cracking when they are out of site.
The next day it is the same. Skip is accosted in the hall by guards. They take him to a cell and tie him up. He continues to keep a brave face. When they come back to get him he says his backache is gone and he is thankful for that.
They then shut him in a wooden box outside. When they come back to get him he begs for one more day in the box.
When he is brought back to his cell he and Harry are left in a cell with Grossberger. Harry had already been in the cell with Harry for a bit. Skip can only stand in the corner at that time. When the guard comes back Grossberger is playing cards with Harry and Skip.
Skip gets to talk to the lawyer. He meets Len's beautiful cousin who is helping in the case. There is a story between Len and his cousin but you do not find out what it is. Skip is asked about how he is faring. Len and Meredith(Jobeth Williams) tells them that there is hope. The little girl that was in the bank is ready to testify but there may be no new hearing. Meredith is asked if she could become romantically involved with a prisoner and he says no.
Meanwhile, the warden is upset because Skip hasn't cracked yet. Harry is being pushed into the infirmary. He to talks to an inmate who had been admitted to have a hernia operation. The inmate tells him that the doctors cut off one of his is testicles by accident. The inmate then lists a bunch of side effects like apathy, lack of motivation, and loss of interest. Harry is rightfully worried. They forced him into the infirmary saying he needed his appendices removed when he had already has an appendectomy years ago. The inmate warns against getting the Korean doctor but Harry get the doctor he does not want and runs out of the infirmary.
Skip goes to the warden ready to deal. He wants his own team and a bigger room with ventilation. The warden agrees. They are to have a guard on them at all times, Graham who was the champion and was injured and on the mend, and there is to be a guard on Graham, Blade.
Blade talks to Harry and Sweetpants defends him. Graham is upset as he talks to the guard. The guard tells Graham that Skip might be going into the rodeo but he may not come out.
The team is on the field, Harry, Sweetpants, Grossberger, Jesus, with the horses while Skip practices. He get thrown off the hosrse but is okay.
Blade explains how bulls are to Harry. Harry is training to be a rodeo clown. Bulls can be violent which worries Harry. Harry's job is to figure out how to get the bull to ride its hardest. He is set to practice hilariously. He is successful.
Meanwhile Sweetpants takes something from the machinery room.
Skip trades cigarettes for wire pliers and Harry trades something for a steel bar which Grossberger bends in the machinery room.
Jesus has a visitor, his wife. She looks shocked when he says something to her. Skip has a visit from the lawyer and the lawyers cousin cousin. He is asked if he can think of anything they might have overlooked because the court will not act on the little girl's word. Skip tries to get closer to Meredith. He invites her to the opening night of his new play and she agrees but they have to get him out of jail first.
Skip is playing guitar in his larger cell while the group is lazing in their new cell. Grossberger sings and he has a beautiful voice. Sweetpants and Harry are winding yarn and Jesus is looking in the refrigerator for something.
In the hall Graham and the guard are plotting. He tells Graham to relax and alludes to a jailhouse funeral.
In a strip club girls are dancing topless. Meredith,who is working there to try and find the real bank robbers, is working as a waitress in the bar. She finds the man she had been looking for with the tattoo the little girl was talking about. It is the men that set Harry and Skip up with the bank job. The pair are talking about how they got away with the robbery. Meredith calls her cousin who does not answer and then she calls police.
Meredith finds her cousin and tells him that she is afraid his clients, Harry and Skip are going to be murdered. They rush off together to stop it.
At the rodeo the group is preparing for Skip to ride. A spur is pulled off a boot. A link is broken while the group prepares for their jailbreak. One of them unscrews a screw in a wall.
Jesus gives Skip some last minute advice and Graham wishes him luck ominously before he rides. Skip does well. A board in a wall is removed while the proceedings go on and Sweetpants goes into the hole. The rest of the group follows. They dodge guards on the way. Harry cuts a board out of a wall while Sweetpants climbs up a wall with meters on it. Seeing freedom Harry smiles before unscrewing some more bolts. A popcorn cart, pushed by Jesus' wife pulls up over the now missing grating and she carts Harry away to a camper.
Meanwhile out on the field, Graham padlocks the gate so that the bucking bull cannot escape while Skip is on its back. Grossberger rips the hinge off the gate and the bull is let loose.
All the while the cart is going Harry is changing clothes. A disguised Harry hands a ticket to a teller and goes inside the stadium.
Jesus discretely slips in the hole, escaping. A guard with a gun hears something but does not catch the group as the escape. It is announced that there will be the first tie ever in the rodeo.
Jesus' wife and Harry are in the bathroom. They wait for the bathrooms to clear, lock the doors, and unscrew grates in the ceiling
Meanwhile, the two top riders have to grab a bag of money off of the bulls head to break the tie. Caesar and Skip talk. Since the money doesn't go to the prisoners anyway Skip tells Caesar to take it.
Meanwhile Jesus and Sweetpants make it to the bathrooms and change clothes. The now disguised group leaves the restroom.
Caesar grabs the money. The warden is angry. Caesar throws the money into the crowd while Grossberger helps Skip into the hole. Before he does a nosy Graham comes over. Grossberger knocks him out. Grossberger is left behind. Skip is put into the popcorn cart and taken to the camper. The rest of the group follows and the camper drives away.
Meanwhile the lawyer and his cousin are on there way to the jail. Meredith recognizes Skip in the camper and quickly tries to follow them.
In a warehouse the group parts ways, Sweetpants goes with Jesus, his wife, and brother. Harry and Skip go together. While driving away they run into Meredith and the lawyer who tells them they are free. The real bad guys had been found. Meredith and Skip kiss and he thanks her. Harry tells Skip they need to go before someone changes their mind. They stop before leaving and take Meredith with them.
The movie ends with the lawyer shaking his head watching the trio drive away.
Best part of story, including ending:
I love this story because it is a hilarious story of mistaken identity, and because there is a clever jail break at the end.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Grossberger is helping his new found friend, Skip, into the hole. Graham comes over to be nosy and is knocked out cold by Grossberger.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Skip is so optimistic and naive. I mostly like the contrast between Skip and the pessimistic Harry.