CRITICAL CONDITION

title: CRITICAL CONDITION
year: 1987
cast: Richard Pryor, Garrett Morris, Rachel Ticotin, Bob Dishy, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Joe Mantegna, Silvia Miles, Bob Saget, Joe Dallesandro, Jon Polito, Wesley Snipes, Brian Tarantina
director: Michael Apted
rating: ***1/2

A very skinny, somewhat riddled looking yet highly energetic Richard Pryor is a con artist who, instead of going to jail where he'll surely be killed by a mobster who thinks he set him up, fakes crazy and is shipped to a mental ward, located in the basement of a large general hospital. The hospital loses it's power during a big storm and Pryor ends up posing as a fly-by-night head doctor. He and the rest of the ensemble cast has to keep the electricity going during the storm-caused blackout and the patients alive, while Pryor alone must sustain his ruse, which isn't easy since he can't operate or even read charts. More of an edgy-action with humor than a comedy; a side-plot involving a psychotic killer (Joe Dallesandro) on the prowl builds effective tension. No wonder they played this on HBO all the time in the late eighties: it's a perfect time-filler.

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