U.S. Release Date: August 30, 1996
Running Time: 93 minutes
MPAA Classification: PG (Mild language, violence/peril)
Cast: Tom Arnold, Jessica Lundy, Bug Hall, Alex McKenna, Scott Kraft, Mark Metcalf, Bob Keeshan, Christopher Lee
Director: John Landis
Producer: Leslie Belzberg
Screenplay: Brent Forrester
By STEPHEN EARNEST / March 22, 2011
At last we have a movie that isn’t afraid to be too ridiculous or too absurd. Often enough, I ridicule movies for being stupid, so why am I delighted to finally see a movie that encourages it? Because this movie is ridiculous and absurd without any real reason other to be ridiculous and absurd. It doesn’t start out being serious and become preposterous as the film progresses—- It begins stupid and ends stupid. This film is aptly named The Stupids.
Tom Arnold is the hero of this film. He stars as Stanley Stupid. Yes, that’s his last name. He has a family and all of their last names are Stupid as well. The plot is easy to follow, but hard to put into words. I’ll try as best I can.
So, Stanley Stupid is convinced that someone is stealing his trash. Late one night, he stays up to find out that the thief is a garbage truck, so he decides to follow it to see where it has been taking his trash all of this time.
Stanley follows the truck until it eventually ends up at the dump. But by doing this, he unknowingly stumbles onto a secret gathering where corrupt army officials are selling contraband to foreign arms dealers. The leaders of this gathering aren’t stupid; they know that Stanley doesn’t belong at the meeting. So Colonel Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf) assigns someone to track Stanley to his next destination.
Meanwhile back at the Stupid residence, the kids (Bug Hall and Alex McKenna) realize that their dad is missing, so they assume he has been kidnapped and decide to go to the police for help. They leave a note for their mother, but jumble up the words. Now, the note makes it seem as though the police are responsible for their disappearance. Of course, the wife (Jessica Lundy) is just as stupid as the rest of her family, so she buys into the whole conspiracy and goes after her kids.
The Stupids becomes a thousand times more complex than what I just described, but to sum up the entire movie would take more than a thousand words. Really, it’s actually a fairly smart movie, despite what the title suggests.
One of the reasons why I liked The Stupids was how it embraced such sheer stupidity with utmost enthusiasm. It doesn’t accidentally become stupid; it tries to get as absurd as it can possibly get. How often do you a find a movie like that? And it’s so damn funny! Sure, some parts are bland and could’ve been handled better, but this movie really is genuinely funny. It’s stupid and moronic in every way possible, but only because it wants to be. It’s not stupid in the sense of “Oh, this sucks”; it’s stupid in the sense of “This is genius!”, if that really makes any sense at all.
Realize that I’m not upholding stupidity by saying this. Stupidity, to me, is when a film does something stupid with the intention of being good: The Stupids is stupid with the intention of being stupid.