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Friday, 3 November 2017

Retro Review: Downtown (1990)

Cast: Anthony Edwards, Forest Whitaker, Penelope Ann Miller, Joe Pantoliano 
Genre: Buddy Cop Action Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $2. 3 million

Plot: Police officer Alex Kerney works in a rich, plush suburb of Philadelphia. When he stops an important businessman and his story of the incident is not believed, he is sent to work downtown, the most dangerous, crime-filled precinct in the city

'Flimsy & Unmemorable Buddy Cop Attempt' 

A mismatched buddy cop comedy, Downtown has a budding premise and sound plot but with a better lead than Anthony Edwards alongside the effective Forrest Whitaker, this film would be way better than what it is. Instead, despite some highlights, the film crashes and burns. An unsuccessful attempt at being another interracial action comedy flick in the same vein as 48 Hrs and Lethal Weapon, Downtown doesn't even have enough or get enough right to qualify as a cult movie, in its own right. 

Alex Kerney is a city cop who gets transferred to a Philadelphia where he is partnered up with a street-wise cop, Dennis after issuing the wrong guy with a traffic ticket. Dennis is still having difficulties getting over the death of his partner, but when Dennis's friend gets murdered by a hitman, Alex is determined to bring him to justice. 

I was surprised to learn that Anthony Edwards who was in the medical drama global hit, ER, is a comedic actor, who first made his debut in Revenge of the Nerds. I always saw him as a dramatic actor and plus, he was good as Goose in 1986's Top Gun alongside Tom Cruise & pretty good in The Client. As good an actor as he can be, this role and this film was beyond him and watching his performance as Alex, it showed. 

Directed by actor Richard Benjamin, who appeared in 1990's Mermaids with Cher and Bob Hoskins, he aims for the lowest common denominator & with that, the film reaches bottom of the barrel low. Downtown is unmemorable, dry with the cliched buddy cop theme approached in a manner that runs out of steam. The comedy is not good as it relies on terrible slapstick and neither it is that amusing, the tone is all over the place and inconsistent throughout, Edwards's character is neither amusing; in fact, the scenes with him cracking jokes and making silly voices just didn't work at all. Whitaker, on the other hand, was, better, who got the angry cop thing nailed to tee. Although at times, it felt like he was honing it in too much and it was difficult to fully warm up to him.  

Released in 1990, the film is copyright dated to 1989, making it more of a '80s movie. Still, it has virtually none of the charm of other buddy cop comedies. The mouthy boss, played by the actor who was in Die Hard who kept mouthing off every F-word became tiresome and more of a nuisance than humourous. The main villain is unconvincing and lacks menace. 

Downtown takes aspects and bits and pieces from other movies of this type, and better films as well, & it is as much fun as staring at a blank wall. 

Final Verdict:

Of the many Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs-type buddy cop movies that came out of the 1980s and 1990s, Downtown is underwhelming, instantly forgettable that is also beyond mediocre and down on its own luck. 

Being a viewer of movies of this genre, I have seen far better. & this isn't one of them. 


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