Thursday, December 3, 2009

Film Review: RENT-A-COP (1987, Jerry London)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 96 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Burt Reynolds, Liza Minnelli, John P. Ryan (RUNAWAY TRAIN, CLASS OF 1999), James Remar (48 HRS., DEXTER, THE LONG RIDERS, THE COTTON CLUB), Bernie Casey (SHARKY'S MACHINE, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS), Richard Masur (MR. BOOGEDY, LICENSE TO DRIVE), Dionne Warwick. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Written by Dennis Shryack (HERO AND THE TERROR).
Tag-line: "Deadlier than Dirty Harry, faster than Cobra..." Why do we have to bring COBRA into this?
Best one-liner: "Merry Christmas!"

RENT-A-COP is so by-the-numbers, it's as if an Apple II-E were programmed to construct an '80s cop movie. It's chock full of maverick cops, snarky hookers, butterfingered rookies, stick-up-the-ass supervisors, merciless killers, evil dudes in mansions, and the buddy who you think is a buddy until you realize he's working for the bad guy. The cast is bursting at the seams with familiar faces: John P. Ryan (Dad in IT'S ALIVE),

John P. Ryan calls Burt Reynolds a loose cannon.

Richard Masur (Dad in LICENSE TO DRIVE and MR. BOOGEDY), Bernie Casey (U.N. Jefferson in REVENGE OF THE NERDS), and a very special appearance by Dionne a pimp! The music by Jerry Goldsmith is laughably epic, sweeping, and full of orchestral emotion: but this ain't GONE WITH THE WIND.

Burt prepares to deliver the one-liner, "Merry Christmas."

At several points, actors (including Burt) look straight into the camera (by accident?). Burt plays Burt; wearing macabre sweaters and butchering his banter (probably cause Dom's not around to slap). It's like a watered down SHARKY'S MACHINE.

Liza plays Liza, and clearly directed and costumed herself.

I guarantee you that the words "fabulous" and "honey" did not appear this much in the original script. Same goes for all the Liza freestyle dancing. At one point she is expected to seriously deliver the line "I jumped on top of him and I DID WHAT I DO!"


James Remar (Ajax in THE WARRIORS, Harry Morgan on DEXTER) is kinda doing an 'evil Swayze' routine. We see his stone cold killer doin' his thing for half the movie, and then WHAM––out of nowhere he's doing a half-naked super-sweaty solo dance number! His character name is then revealed to be 'Dancer.' Even for an 80's movie, this is insane.

If you're a Remar fan, you may have to watch this video twelve thousand times.

Now for the kicker: Liza hunts for the killer in a dance club. A guy passes by and––SCHWINK––gooses her. Liza yells into her wire, "Jesus, I just got goosed by some guy dressed as Little Red Riding Hood?!" We cut to Burt on the other end of the line, smiling in secret satisfaction.

And there ya have it- incontrovertible evidence that Burt loves goosing. (See also: my review of STROKER ACE.) Three stars, I guess.


Anonymous said...

I watched the Dancer clip yesterday. Holy wow, was that FUNNY!

(It also made me wonder at what point [in his life] Jamie went from callow youth to distinguished gentleman. But that's another conversation entirely.)

Sean Gill said...

Ha! Yes, that clip is one of my all-time favorites. I would love to see the reaction of your average DEXTER/SEX AND THE CITY fan. Mr. Remar's one of my all-time favorite actors, and his slew of roles in the 80's definitely runs the gamut from awesome sleazy actioners (QUIET COOL, RENT-A-COP) to classy, sprawling epics (THE LONG RIDERS, THE COTTON CLUB).

As a side note, I truly hope that his rumored, forthcoming re-pairing with Walter Hill (ST. VINCENT) becomes a reality.

Anonymous said...

I've seen every episode of Dexter and read the books. I'm currently in my second run of season three and I've seen some of the season two episodes two and three times. (Deb/Lundy has to be one of the weirdest pairings of all time!)

I've also seen every episode of SatC and the first movie. (Just the other day, I tried to book my mother for the premiere of the second movie. HA!) I've also watched certain season four episodes numerous times. (*wink, nudge*)

Do I count? ^_^


I've stopped watching the movies Jamie made before I was seems like the earlier I go, the screwier they get! (Judging by your comments, that may be a very good idea!)

Sean Gill said...

Heh, don't get me wrong, I am a DEXTER fan as well (and I wonder if Keith Carradine (Lundy) was cast via some James Remar/Walter Hill connection (both Carradine and Remar worked with Hill on numerous occasions).

If you're looking for some solid pre-90's Remar films and enjoy genre/action/horror cinema, I highly recommend THE WARRIORS, 48 HRS., QUIET COOL (ludicrous, but a rare starring role!), THE COTTON CLUB (a Coppola film where he plays a gangster with bursts of Pesci-style violence), and TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE.

Anonymous said...

Out of the first three you listed, only Quiet Cool was worth watching, and then only barely. (I find myself unable to put my dislike of 48 Hrs. into words, except to say that it was the only one of the three I didn't finish. I don't care what any of the fanboys say about The Warriors--it could have been so much better!)

I have put some hard thought into The Cotton Club, but I understand it's rather violent, so I'm not sure it's something I want to see. The only problem I find with Tales from the Darkside is that I'm not into horror movies...I think I'm taking a risk with The Unborn.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not some froufrou fangirl whose favorite color is pink and who watches teen trash like Gossip Girl--I'm just very selective in my viewing habits. (In case you're wondering, my colors are black and silver and I thought Sharpshooter was excellent, if not a little too predictable. Does that tell you anything? ;) )

Sean Gill said...

Taking that into consideration, I'd still wholeheartedly recommend TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE for you- Remar is only in the final segment, "Lover's Vow," and it's more of a melancholy, tragic horror tale than a gory, trashy one.

THE COTTON CLUB is very solid, but only if you're in the mood for an 'epic, GODFATHER meets 1930's musicals' mood. It's not exceptionally violent, and Remar has a large, memorable supporting role.