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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Retro Review: Turner & Hooch (1989)

Turner & Hooch
Cast: Tom Hanks, Beasley the dog, Craig T. Nelson, Reginald VelJohnson, Marie Winningham
Genre: Buddy Cop Comedy
U.S Lifetime Gross: over $71 million 

Plot: A detective must adopt the dog of a dead man to help him find the murderer 

'Solid Late '80s Man Best Friend's Crime Caper'

In the early 1980s when his career had just about kicked off with his TV sitcom showing, Bosom Buddies, Tom Hanks mostly dabbled in comedy films and whilst a lot of them have been disappointing in my eyes, comedy is a genre that I truly miss most in with regards to his output. But for his voiceover turn as Woody in Toy Story, Hanks work has been predominately in dramatic flicks, which is good to see, yet I wished his work had been a lot more varied.

Turner & Hooch is a buddy cop comedy movie starring Tom Hanks and is yet another so-called light-hearted earlier offering from Hanks, years before he went down the serial drama path as an actor, full-time. Following on from the massive blockbuster, Big, this was Hanks's follow-up and the film is directed by Roger Spottiswoode who did the unmemorable The Best of Times starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, as well as the 1997 James Bond flick, Tomorrow Never Dies, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot & Air America, with the script penned by Dennis Shyrack & Michael Blodgett, whose former and latter movies consisted of B-movie action flicks not many people have heard of before. This was also one of two cop/dog buddy cop comedies released in the year of 1989, with the other being K9 starring James Belushi, which came out first: only it didn't garner much attention compared to Turner & Hooch. 

Hanks is Scott Turner, a cop who tries to get to the bottom of who murdered Hooch's owner & Scott's friend, Amos during an undercover money laundering ring. The only witness to the scene of that murder is Hooch, the big drooling Dogue de Bordeaux dog itself. Turner is then made to take care of and look after Hooch when he and his partner, David realise he is key to the investigation. At the same time, they figure out a way how to get the thing, Hooch to identify the killer.

It's no different to any other canine-based comedy movie, yet it feels a little looser and it makes a change to see Tom Hanks show off his comical side. This is virtually almost of the same quality as that of Penny Marshall's Big, but it is far superior to Dragnet as Tom Hanks buddy cop comedies go. 

I hadn't watched this movie in ages, which is like over 20 years or something and it was and is a movie that didn't appeal to me as an 8-year-old, back in 1989 when it was originally released. & when Hanks became an even bigger star, I avoided it and he was an actor whose movies and performances didn't catch on with me; but I have got over that completely, because Tom Hanks is a terrific actor and as a fan of comedy films, seeing him do comedy puts a smile on my face. Here, he and the dog work off well each other and with that, Scott becomes more attached to Hooch and sees to it that it is his 'best friend'.

Marie Winningham reminds me a little of Lea Thompson of Back To The Future and she fared okay as the local vet that Hanks's Scott falls for. The remaining performances ranged from okay to serviceable at best. 

Tom Hanks is a great actor, but comedy roles have been few and far, yet here he sells it so well, thus expressing his clear frustration & humourous side and he's one of those actors who in comedy movies, never overdoes it. Most of the comedy revolves around Hooch making a mess of things such as chewing the car seat, wrecking the entire house and Scott trying to deal with the slobbering beast that has become a huge part of his life. There is a scene where he is eating dog biscuits and a romantic subplot with Scott and a female vet, which was a little strange but at the same time, I wasn't bothered by it. Either way, with or without that subplot, it didn't really matter, to be frank. 

Turner & Hooch doesn't have a strong and solid storyline with a murder mystery that takes itself way too seriously than it should have and the dissonance of the comedy and the drama doesn't meld well. The ending climax, however, was frankly awful, too sad and not one I would have opted for and for a comedy, it takes away from some of the feel-good factor it evoked. It just felt utterly bleak and given the tone of the film, it sort of marred the experience slightly. 

Despite that, Tom Hanks carries this one through, although the welcome and lovable addition of Beasley as Hooch, makes this one less formulaic and out of this movie and K9, I prefer Turner & Hooch over the James Belushi offering. 

Final Verdict:

An amiable effort, whilst it hardly rates very highly in Hanks's career, it does make me wish that he took up far more quality comedy-based and lighter roles to supplement his dramatic work. Turner & Hooch is pre-Hollywood fame A-lister, Tom Hanks, where with this effort and Big, he showed his comedic chops and knack for embracing his funny side & he and the late Beasley The Dog make for a nice man and dog duo. 

The jokes may not be laugh- out- loud funny and raucous and the plot may not be that great, yet this was still a decent flick in my eyes that goes about its business in an easy-going manner, although the tonal shift in the last third from a comedy to a serious crime flick, was a strange move & the conclusion was too far-fetched.

Still, Turner & Hooch, though predictable, was watchable from beginning to end and seeing Tom Hanks in his undies, is a nice bonus too. 

By no means amazing, this was still solid. 


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