The Stupids (film)

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The Stupids
The Stupids.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Landis
Produced by Leslie Belzberg
Written by Brent Forrester
Based on The Stupids 
by James Marshall and
Harry Allard
Starring Tom Arnold
Jessica Lundy
Bug Hall
Alex McKenna
Mark Metcalf
Bob Keeshan
Christopher Lee
Music by Christopher Stone
Cinematography Manfred Guthe
Edited by Dale Beldin
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • August 30, 1996 (1996-08-30)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $25 million
Box office $2.5 million[2]

The Stupids is a 1996 British-Canadian-American adventure comedy film directed by John Landis. The film 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 trash.

The film was a box office bomb and received negative reviews.


Joan and Stanley 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 Lieutenant 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 to be assassinated, and after several attempts on his life result in humorous dispatching of his would be assassins, Stanley narrowly escapes a carbomb and is presumed dead by Neidermeyer.

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

Once all the family are reunited back home, Joan tells the children about their father'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. Stanley tells the family about the conspiracy theory he has invented that combines all the ideas the family's 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 into his 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 entire Stupid family head to the warehouse where they expect to find Sender and the stolen mail. The family 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 family arrives home and resolving some subplots including a delivery driver finally getting the order Joan placed to them and saving them from Neiderrmeyer 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 Stupid and his daughter 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 takeout-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 Stupids flopped at the box office, grossing just $2,491,989 in North America[2] from an estimated $25 million budget.

The film also received generally negative reviews, Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a score of 21% based on 14 reviews.[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Arnold won at the 1996 Golden Raspberry Awards - Worst Actor for his performances in Big Bully, Carpool, and The Stupids.[5][6] The Stupids was also nominated for the award for Worst Picture, Worst Director (John Landis), and Worst Screenplay (Brent Forrester).


External links[edit]