A reasonably successful comedy about an incompetent bank-robber, his mute daughter, and an ex-con attempting to go straight who are forced to go on the run from the law. As they do, they have many mis-adventures, one prat-fall after another. At the same time, the misfits learn the importance of family and looking out for each other, as they attempt to hide out in Canada.
Our story begins at the Pacific National Bank, where con-man Lucas (Nick Nolte) is taken hostage by Ned (Martin Short) in probably the most flawed bank robbery imaginable. Lucas has just been released after 5 years in the clink, and to his chagrin, Ned’s incompetence attracts the attention of the cops. Forced to go into hiding together, Lucas and Ned manage to escape from the cops, but Lucas is accidently shot in the leg. Ned quickly takes Lucas to Doctor Horvath, who is actually a mad veterinarian (Kenneth McMillan), and thinks he is dealling with a big dog.
To earn Lucas’ wrath even further, Ned sneaks off to the local specialist school, and comes back with his estranged daughter Meg (Sarah Rowland Doroff). The child is 6 and has not spoken for 2 years in mourning for her deceased mother. Not surprisingly, Lucas hates children and refuses to have anything to do with Meg. To compound their woes, the threesome are now all suspects and seemingly partners in crime according to Detective Dugan (James Earl Jones).
So as the film title suggests, Lucas, Ned and Meg are now on the run together as 3 fugitives. So begins a frantic attempt to escape to Canada, during which they must dodge cops, mobsters, con-men and overprotective nurses who had been looking after Meg. All the while, the bond between the threesome grows ever stronger, and Meg gradually breaks the silence. This prompts probably the most emotional moment in the whole film.
Three Fugitives is actually pretty good despite the fact that it is littered with the ever-predictable prat-falls that any well-knowing audience will know are just around the corner. The gags and stunts are reasonably well carried out, but for the most part, the movie is actually about the bond between Lucas, Ned and Meg. They are forced to look out for each other against their will, but learn to tolerate and care for each other, especially Lucas when concerning his attitude towards Meg. He is certainly not prepared to go to prison so soon after being released, but his leadership and cunning is the key to helping Ned and Meg stay out of trouble, as Ned is highly incompetent and has no idea what he is doing.
The film may be portrayed as a comedy, but it is highly emotional in places, especially when we learn that Meg has not spoken for 2 years following her mother’s death and that she requires specialist care. As if that wasn’t sad enough, Ned is struggling to raise money for the psychiatric care that his daughter requires, as well as gain custody of her. Ned is becoming so desperate, that he is willing to sacrifice anything and everything, just to help his daughter. All in all, Three Fugitives is a film that will steal your heart, not necessarily for the comedy, but certainly for the love and devotion shown by the 3 fugitives of the title, and the hardships they have to go through. This will certainly appeal to all those who are fond of children.