Picks and Pans Review: Some Kind of Hero

updated 05/10/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/1982 01:00AM

With the notable exception of his two brilliant concert flicks, Pryor has lavished his formidable talents on some astonishingly weak movies. Some Kind of Hero is no exception. The screenplay by James Kirkwood and Robert Boris, based on Kirkwood's novel, is an incoherent mix of comic and dramatic moods. Pryor, home from six years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, finds his wife, Lynne Moody, living with another man. His mother, Olivia Cole, is the victim of a stroke, and his bookstore business is in ruins. When his Army back pay is withheld by red tape, he decides on a life of crime for which he is hilariously unsuited. Director Michael (Those Lips, Those Eyes) Pressman offers mostly misdirection to a strong cast, including Margot Kidder as a $200-a-night Beverly Hills call girl, Ray Sharkey as a fellow POW and Ronny Cox as a sympathetic Army colonel. Characteristically, Pryor carves out solo moments that shrewdly separate him from the rest of the picture. Whether he's gently feeding a rat in his prison cell ("Hey, brother") or just standing silently outside an apartment door listening to his wife and daughter professing familial love for another man, Pryor proves equally adept at humor and heartbreak. The rest of the movie tries to get by on borrowed inspiration: a bank robbery from Take the Money and Run, a suitcase mixup from What's Up, Doc?, a homecoming scene from The Deer Hunter. That it succeeds at all is due to Pryor's wizardry at bringing dead scenes to life. (R)

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