- Movie Rating -

Loose Cannons (1990)

| February 8, 1990

A lot of bad comedies seem dead on arrival, but I have every reason to believe that Loose Cannons started off a lot funnier and a lot smarter than what ended up on the screen.  How else do you explain the presence of talent like Gene Hackman, Dan Ackroyd and Dom DeLuise?  There is the potential for an idea here that, I have a feeling, was discarded and/or dumbed down by some flywheel studio exec who feared that giving the movie over to its actors and letting them play smart might hurt the box office.  Well, the joke’s on him.

Loose Cannons is the kind of experience where you get annoyed because the movie keeps getting in the actor’s way.  It’s a cop-buddy movie, for all intents and purposes, but also the kind of comedy in which you can see the strands of a smart movie that has to suffer through a heaping helping of stupid and inane gags that have nothing to do with anything.

The cops are MacArthur Stern (Hackman) and Ellis Fielding (Ackroyd) who are sent to investigate a bunch of murders in the Washington D.C. area.  Ackroyd is brilliant at deduction and, yes, it’s always fun to watch him play smart, but the fun is undercut by the fact that his character has multiple personality disorder which is aggravated when he is confronted with violence.  The result?  He acts out old movie characters as in a painfully unfunny bar scene in which he is confronted by a thug and then responds by imitating The Lone Ranger, The Cowardly Lion and The Road Runner.  Dan Ackroyd, at his very best, is a guy whose mind is always three steps ahead of everyone else’s, as he was in Ghostbusters and Dragnet.  He doesn’t need impressions of old movies to be funny.  Can you imagine a good movie in which he plays a crime scene investigator?  That would be a treasure

Another problem.  Why give the character a mental illness and then spend the whole movie making fun of it?  Multiple Personality Disorder is a serious issue, but it’s clowned up here into a series of unfunny sight gags that are as degrading as they are humiliating.

Even worse is the case that Hackman and Ackroyd are working on.  It seems that an old home movie has surfaced featuring Adolf Hitler in bed with another man.  Presently, the man is running for the Chancellorship of Germany and orders the murders of everyone who sees the film.  This is how the murders in D.C. happen and that’s why the movie is padded with chases and shoot-outs and car crack-ups while our heroes are being pursued by Nazi Sympathizers.  That whole plot structure involving Nazis and Hitler and a homosexual home movie is not only unfunny but distasteful.  What must modern Germans think of our portrayal of their leaders?

Loose Cannons was directed Bob Clark whose record is spotty at best.  He either directs movies that I love like A Christmas Story, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and Black Christmas.  Or he makes embarrassing stuff like Rhinestone, Porky’s and Turk 182.  Well, here’s another movie that you can throw on the ‘no’ pile.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1990) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized