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Archive for the ‘1987’ Category

dragnetI have a friend named Reed who is kind of a tool but also one of the most decent humans on the planet. When it comes to movies he and I disagree on a lot of things.  For example I enjoy movies made after 1980 and in general he believes cinema died after it.   One thing that I do that drives him nuts is when I say things like, “That movie is awful, but fun to watch so it’s good.” An example would but Hot Tub Time Machine.  I mention this because back when I saw this film in the 80’s I would have said the same thing about Dragnet, awful but fun to watch so it’s good.  I haven’t seen this movie since I sold my VHS copy of this to a pawn shop sometime in the 90’s, I decided to buy the three pack DVD set of Tom Hanks 80’s comedies on Amazon that included this film Dragnet, The Money Pit (which I already had so now I have 2, who wants one?,) and The ‘Burbs.  I bought it because it’s cheap and this month is our dedication to movies with the great Tom Hanks in them.  Well now that I am older and a little bit more grown up I have watched this film again and I no longer believe that it’s fun to watch so it’s mostly just bad now, which is sad.

Dragnet is a remake/homage to the 1950’s and 60’s classic TV show starring Jack Webb.  In the movie, his nephew Sargent Friday, played by Dan Aykroyd (Pearl Harbor,) and his new partner Pep Streebek, played by Tom Hanks (The Money Pit,) are investigating a string of robberies where the culprits leave calling card with the name PAGAN on it.  As they continue to investigate Friday and Streebek discover that the PAGAN group is not only interested in stealing cars but a far more nefarious goal that includes leaders of the religious community and the police department.

This movie doesn’t work because of its one main gag and that is it tries to satire a TV show that was silly to 1980’s audience but was treated as a serious police drama back in the 1950’s.  The writers of the movie, which include Aykroyd, took all of the mannerism of Jack Web as Joe Friday one step too far.  This can be seen when Aykroyd, as Friday, would do odd things like point to the obvious door in the building or repeat out loud what can easily be read or when reading off a law that was broken Friday would list all of the numbers with points.  But not just say Penal code 136.4 but Penal Code 145.876.2.4.1. Basically even though it seems that the TV show is ripe for mocking, the direction they went in this film was wrong.  You can’t treat the old TV show with awe and respect and turn around and mock it at the same time.

The only reason this movie is funny at all is because of Hanks.  He is the wise cracking funny man to Aykroyd’s straight man Friday.  There are many scenes that he makes tolerable and the best way to describe him in this film would be if you take his character from the movie Bachelor Party and turned him into a cop who is a smart guy who likes to have a good time that is witty and has great timing in delivering the comedy.  This movie also, in some way, was the beginning of the end as Dan Aykroyd being a bankable comedic actor. After this film he was in no real successful comedy that he was the star in.  He had some mild success in The Great Outdoors but that’s it.  He did much better in drama’s such as Driving Miss Daisy, and Chaplin.  This, too me, is kind of sad because he very much wanted this movie to succeed because he was a big fan of the TV show and it was a dream of his to make this movie.  But while his heart was willing his acting and writing made it impossible to like this film.

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The ending is something that I used to love as a kid but now I look at it and ask myself what the hell was I thinking?  After the police had showed up to stop the mass gassing of the soft core porn owner, Jerry Caesar, played by Dabney Coleman (Wargames,) the mastermind of the whole plan, Reverend Whirley, played by Christopher Plummer (Syriana,) had escaped with his hostage and Friday’s love interest Connie Swail, played by Alexandra Paul (Christine,) and had made it to the airport and flew off in a private jet just as Friday and Streebek arrive.  So it looks like the reverend will make it to Mexico as the plane is flying south in daylight when he looks over and sees an F-15 fighter plane that belongs to the LAPD and Friday is sitting in the back looking at Whirley, shaking his head and pointing down as the old school Dragnet them plays in the background.  Now as a kid I loved this scenes just because I thought it was awesome that they had an F-15 and that they would blow them out of the sky if he didn’t land.  What can I say?  I was a dumb kid who loved the military.  But now I think why would Whirley concede and land at the airport because he should have known that as long as the hostage was in the airplane there is no way they would shoot it down.  Plus the reverend had escaped late at night/early morning but in the dark.  Los Angeles isn’t that far from Mexico so it seems odd that it was bright daylight when the F-15 caught up to the leer jet.  How is possible that he is not in Mexico at this point which would make him free?  I guess I should suspend my disbelief but Im old now at it gets harder and harder.

This is not a good movie.  Of all of the Tom Hanks films, I only have Joe Versus the Volcano as the film that has Hanks in it that is worse than Dragnet.  Although I hate A League of their Own so much that I would say it’s close to this one.  The movie didn’t work and is sad on many levels.  I will say I was nice to see Harry Morgan in the film reprising his role for the TV show, even in a minor capacity.  Rarely will I ever say that Reed is right when it comes to movies, however this is the one rare time he is right.  This is bad.  I would say skip this but there is no chance that this movie would come up on cable TV of any kind.  Unless they do a bad 80’s comedy marathon but why would they do that?

P.S.  I almost forgot, during the end credits you get to hear Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd rap to a 80’s rap song about the movie.  That may be the one reason to watch this movie just so you can hear that.

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PredatorI am an Arnold fan, or is it a fan of Arnold.  At any rate Schwarzenegger is my favorite action star of all time.  I know he will never get an Academy Award but that’s ok, there are a lot of people who have gotten the award and didn’t deserve it, James Cameron comes to mind.  Anyway, Predator is an outstanding action movie that doesn’t try to push any message, because it’s an 80’s movie and that means high body count and cool sayings.  This also may be the first movie ever to have two future Governors acting in the movie, Schwarzenegger, current governor of California, and Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota.

The outline is pretty simple Maj. Schaffer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Red Heat,)  and his band of Special Forces are asked by the government to go after a group of diplomats that were shot down in the jungle of some enemy territory in Central America, the countries are never named.  So Schaffer’s group goes in with a CIA weasel named  Dillon, played by Carl Weathers (Rocky, ) and tries to find the missing diplomats.  While they are looking for the diplomats, they come across a bunch of dead men who have been skinned alive.  They turned out to be Green Berets from Fort Bragg.  So the group works extra hard to find the men who did this.  Little do they know that they themselves are being hunted by an alien, what has become called a predator, in the jungle.  It has a nearly invisible defense mechanisms and a handful of cool killing devices.  Eventually the Special Forces and the predator run into each other and the guys start losing, one by one, until its Arnold vs. the Alien.

The movie was directed by John McTiernan who has done other such action movies as Die Hard, The 13th Warrior, and The Hunt for Red October.   He is a master at cinematography and always finds way to allow the setting to set the mood.  In Predator, he uses the jungle to give the story a dark unnerving feeling even though the majority of the scenes are shot in broad daylight.

The action hero’s in the movie are of course headlined by Schwarzenegger and Weathers.  Jesse Ventura was a couple of years removed from wrestling when he made this movie.  Other prominent stars are Bill Duke (Commando) and Sonny Landham (48 Hours) who always seems to play guys named Billy in movies.  Kevin Peter Hall is the guy in the Predator suit and returns in the second Predator movie but passed away in 1991.  I mention him only because he also was the Bigfoot Harry in the movie Harry and the Henderson’s.

This movie is one of the many that made Arnie an action star in the mid 1980’s.  This movie won’t tell you about saving the rain forest or the plight of third world countries and their people, but sure will make you enjoy watching them get blown away as they burn down the forest.  It’s fun and would never have been made in the 1990’s.  If you haven’t seen it, get the new DVD it’s loaded with tons of new material and it coincides with the release of the god-awful Aliens vs. Predator movie.  See where the origins of the predator begin by watching this movie.  It rocks!

 

Brian – The Naked Gun

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