Friday, September 11, 2009

Film Review: HUDSON HAWK (1991, Michael Lehmann)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Tag-line: "Catch the excitement. Catch the laughter. Catch the Hawk." Interesting that even in the tag-line, they compare to a disease.
Notable Cast or Crew: Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Richard E. Grant (WITHNAIL AND I, HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING), Sandra Bernhard (THE KING OF COMEDY), James Coburn, David Caruso (THE KING OF NEW YORK), Frank Stallone, William Conrad (THE FUGITIVE series, THE RACKET), Andie MacDowell.
Best one-liner: "How am I driving? 1-800-I'm-gonna-fuckin'-die!" Yehh.

You know when you got a toothache, and you keep touching that sensitive spot with your tongue, and hot damn it hurts, but you kinda like it, and then you're grinding your teeth and the pain is excruciating, it's stinging, it's pure agony, but you LIKE it somehow, on some level, and you keep on pressing, but why o why are you doing this to yourself?! In a nutshell, that's my relationship with Bruce Willis' singing voice, and, by extension, HUDSON HAWK. Yeh, I own THE RETURN OF BRUNO.

Note the shoes.

I'm big enough to admit that. But there are things so excruciating in this film that any sane person would just walk away, just get up and walk away: Andie MacDowell as a secret agent nun doing a dolphin impersonation ("What does the color blue taste like? Bobo knows? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! I must speak with the dolphins now. Eee-eeee-eee-eee!").

James Coburn wearing purple camo and doing kung fu. A preponderance of Looney Tunes sound effects. An ill-conceived Leonardo da Vinci flashback. Not one, but two, hang glider sequences (always the hallmark of a great film- see: MAC AND ME, MONKEY TROUBLE, etc.). Willis trying to turn "Slurp my butt" into a catchphrase. A slew of groan-mustering Nintendo references. Frank Stallone as one of the 'Mario Brothers.'

Richard E. Grant acquits himself, kind of, through sheer flamboyance.

Danny Aiello and Bruce bobbing and undulating in unison, singing show tunes as they pull off heists.

Hudson Hawk's only unique character trait is that he really enjoys cappuccinos.

Have you had enough yet?

Some have theorized that Willis' career has bounced back from so many nadirs (BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, BRUNO THE KID, THE SIEGE, et al.) due to his ability to stoop to the material, yet simultaneously wink and half grin to the audience, as if to say, as he does in BLIND DATE, "Anybody got ten grand for bail?" And, quite literally, that's what he's asking:

"Is there anyone out there kind enough to bear with me till I can crank out a LAST BOY SCOUT or a PLANET TERROR?"

And "Yes," we reply with a hang-dog look. "We are." But how are we willing to forgive THIS? Have we no taste? No values systems?

Three stars, and God help me.

-Sean Gill

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