The Stupids (film)

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The Stupids
The Stupids.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Landis
Produced byLeslie Belzberg
Written byBrent Forrester
Based onThe Stupids
by James Marshall and
Harry Allard
Music byChristopher Stone
CinematographyManfred Guthe
Edited byDale Beldin
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • August 30, 1996 (1996-08-30)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$25 million
Box office$2.5 million[2]

The Stupids is a 1996 British-Canadian-American adventure comedy film starring Tom Arnold and directed by John Landis. It is based on The Stupids, characters from a series of books written by Harry Allard and illustrated by James Marshall.

The film follows the fictional family, the Stupids, with a last name synonymous with their behavior. The story begins with patriarch Stanley Stupid believing "sender" from letters marked "return to sender" is a wicked man planning a conspiracy. Adding several misunderstandings, the family unwittingly saves the world from military chaos, while believing a fake story about a fictional man named Sender and his plot to confiscate everyone's mail and garbage.


Stanley and Joan Stupid are convinced they are victims of a conspiracy that steals their garbage every week and in an attempt to uncover this, Stanley follows the garbage truck to the city dump where he stumbles across Colonel Neidermeyer who is selling contraband weaponry to a group of terrorists. Neidermeyer believes Stanley to be a secret agent who has uncovered their operation and orders him assassinated, and after several attempts on his life result in him unintentionally killing his would be assassins, he narrowly escapes a car bomb and is presumed dead by Neidermeyer.

Meanwhile, the children, Buster and Petunia, believe their parents have been kidnapped by a Chinese restaurant and go in search of them. They reunite with Joan, who explains her theory that the police have turned against them and are responsible for their missing father.

Once the Stupids are reunited back home, Joan tells the children about Stanley's last job for the postal service where he discovered all the letters being marked "return to sender", but was fired before he could find out who "Mr. Sender" was. He tells him family about the conspiracy theory he has invented that combines all the ideas their overactive imaginations have created, including the "Evil Mr. Sender" plotting to steal all the mail and garbage from America and employing the police to kidnap anybody who discovers his scheme. When they find local museum curator Charles Sender in the phone book they set off in pursuit, ultimately tracking him to a television studio where Stanley appears on a talk show and is spotted by Niedermeyer who has him kidnapped and brought to the army base.

While being held hostage at the army base, Stanley overhears the address of the warehouse being used for the illegal arms deals. Following a fluke escape, the Stupids head there, where they expect to find Sender and the stolen mail. They confront Neidermeyer and his terrorist associates in a slapstick battle, resulting in some large explosions that cause the police to investigate the warehouse. Stanley offers what he perceives to be heroic advice about how Sender can repent his evil ways but Sender takes them as road directions and both men are pleased with the outcome of the conversation.

The Stupids arrive home and resolve some subplots including a delivery man finally getting the order Joan placed to them and saving them from Neidermeyer one last time in the process, as well as some extraterrestrial pilots attempting to kill Stanley who, in his usual manner, unwittingly dispatches them.


Celebrity cameos

Running gags[edit]

Stanley and Petunia enter a planetarium and believe they are dead. The janitor talks to them and they believe he is God. They call him Lord, and he corrects them saying his name is Lloyd, and they refer to God as "Lloyd" from then on. The gag is further extended when they are "rescued" by a delivery man who works for Floyd's Restaurant. They believe he is a guardian angel and assure him that he works for Lloyd, not Floyd. The gag appears in the closing credits, when a final title says "Trust In The Lloyd".

The Stupids' dog, Kitty, and cat, Xylophone, are anthropomorphized- claymation characters that act much more intelligently than their owners. For instance, they solved the "mystery" of why the car wouldn't start. Far from needing the mouth to mouth resuscitation Stanley provided, the problem was that the car keys weren't in the ignition.

Another gag is the name of the film's main antagonist, Colonel Neidermeyer, played by Mark Metcalf, who had previously played Doug Neidermeyer in Animal House.[3]

Many smaller roles and bit parts are filled by acclaimed film directors, including Atom Egoyan, Norman Jewison, Robert Wise, David Cronenberg, Gillo Pontecorvo, Costa-Gavras, and Gurinder Chadha.


The film was shot in Toronto, Ontario (Downtown shots) and Uxbridge, Ontario (Home located at 55 Quaker Village Drive, Uxbridge, Ontario).

The film was the last film produced by Savoy Pictures.


The film grossed $2,491,989 in North America[2] from an estimated $25 million budget.

The film opened to negative reviews and became Landis' weakest one. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave it a score of 20% based on 15 reviews as of November 2017.[4]

Despite negative reviews, John Landis said he's really proud of the film: "I’m happy to say it’s very successful on television, and extremely successful on video because people buy it for their kids.; It’s meant for ten-year-olds.; That really went under the radar.; But I really like that picture.; And that one had a great score by Christopher Stone."[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Arnold won at the 1996 Golden Raspberry Awards - Worst Actor for his performances in Big Bully, Carpool, and this one.[6][7] The film was also nominated for the award for Worst Picture, Worst Director (John Landis), and Worst Screenplay (Brent Forrester).


  1. ^ "THE STUPIDS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1996-02-23. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  2. ^ a b The Stupids at Box Office Mojo Retrieved June 29, 2013
  3. ^ "Mark Metcalf".
  4. ^ The Stupids at Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved November 29, 2017
  5. ^
  6. ^ "MORNING REPORT". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  7. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW Stupids Proves Comedy Isn't Always Pretty". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.

External links[edit]