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Film / Three Fugitives

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Three Fugitives is a 1989 crime comedy directed and written by Francis Veber and produced by Touchstone Pictures, starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short. It is an American remake of 1986's Les Fugitifs, which was also directed and written by Veber.

After five years in prison, Lucas (Nolte) is escorted to the Pacific National Bank by Detective Dugan (James Earl Jones) and Inspector Tener (Alan Ruck), where he is taken hostage by Ned Perry (Short). Mistaken for partners in crime, Lucas and Ned endure many misadventures as they attempt to retrieve Ned's mute daughter Meg (Sarah Rowland Doroff) and encounter a mad veterinarian (Kenneth McMillan) and other perils as they attempt to evade the cops and escape to Canada.

Three Fugitives provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Kidnapping: Averted, when Ned and Lucas attempt to rescue Meg, Lucas nearly rescues another little girl he'd mistaken for Meg until Ned points this out.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Doctor Horvath, the mad veterinarian, doesn't refer to any of the titular fugitives by their names, instead he refers to Ned by his father's name (George), Meg as a kitten and Lucas as a dog.
  • Break the Cutie: Try to separate Meg from Lucas and she will cry, run away into potential danger and finally refuse to eat or speak to anyone.
  • Broken Tears: Ned, when Meg is returned to her boarding School and Meg as described above.
  • Bumbling Dad: Ned is utterly incompetent when it comes to robbing banks and discretely trying to rescue his daughter from her boarding School (on the second attempt).
  • But Now I Must Go: Averted whenever Lucas tries to leave Ned and Meg.
  • Captain Oblivious: Detective Dugan believes Lucas is masterminding Ned's bank robbery when he's clearly Ned's hostage.
  • Cute Mute: Meg, unless Lucas is with her.
  • Delayed Reaction: When Ned and Lucas crawl out of their stolen Datsun, Ned realises his grenade didn't go off, it detonates a split second later.
  • The Determinator: Both Ned and Lucas, largely because they want to avoid going to prison and Ned doesn't want to lose Meg.
  • Disguised in Drag: Lucas forces Ned to pretend to be his "wife" Lucille for going to Canada.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Lucas forces a disguised Ned to pretend to be in labour by stuffing Meg's teddy bear under his clothes.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Ned and Lucas, crossing over with Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ned takes Lucas hostage while attempting a bank robbery, guess what happens to Ned once they're in Canada...
  • Insult of Endearment: Lucas repeatedly refers to Ned as "Asshole", even when they try to help each other and Meg.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lucas, he refuses to have anything to do with Meg at first but gradually warms to her.
  • Manly Tears: Ned is so proud when Meg begs Lucas not to go, he can't help it which is hardly surprising when his daughter has remained mute for 2 years.
  • Missing Mom: Meg's mother passed away 2 years earlier, leading to her father having a nervous breakdown and losing his job and her becoming a Cute Mute.
  • Mistaken Identity: Detective Dugan believes Lucas to have masterminded Ned's attempted bank robbery even when it's blatantly obvious that Lucas is Ned's hostage.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ned and Lucas' attempt to rescue Meg is almost ruined by Ned's clumsiness and incompetence and Lucas frightening a little girl he'd mistaken for Meg.
  • Papa Wolf: Lucas swears to protect Ned and Meg as well as himself and get them safely to Canada by any means necessary.
  • Parental Substitute: How Meg sees Lucas and he reluctantly becomes one to her.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Ned does this during the bank robbery. In the process, he rips his pantyhose mask.
  • The Quiet One: Meg, even after she's bonded with Lucas, she still doesn't talk much even if she's no longer a Cute Mute.
  • Skyward Scream: Lucas when Doctor Horvath pours alcohol on his gunshot wound.
    • The girl whom Lucas mistakes for Meg, followed by all the other kids in the dormitory.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Meg when Lucas attempts to leave her and her father, she comes right out and pleads to him "Don't go!"
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Lucas shortens Meg's hair and dresses her as his "son" Jonathan before the journey to Canada.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Played with in that it's actually two men and a little girl.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ned and Lucas.