Guilty Pleasures: Hudson Hawk
Scott McKenzie sips a cappuccino and flings his cup in the judge's direction...
Your honour, I find it unbelievable that the guilty pleasure status of Hudson Hawk is even up for debate. I believe that it is guilty and I also challenge the defence to give us any evidence that there is any pleasure at all to be gained from such a tortuous viewing experience. I lay the blame solely at the feet of one man—Bruce Willis. This was a pet project of his, based on a character he dreamed up before he was famous, back when he was plain ol’ broke-ass Walter Willis. Just because he’d made everyone around him stacks of cash with Moonlighting and Die Hard didn’t mean that everything he touched would turn to gold, but that didn’t occur to the studio who gave him carte blanche to take the movie in any direction his imagination felt like taking him.
Exhibit A: This coffee lover does his fair share of mugging
The main problem is that short of coming up with a swing-tune lovin’ cappuccino-sippin’ cat-burglin’ scoundrel, he failed to put together the key ingredient needed to commit a movie to film, namely a screenplay. With screenplay changes a daily occurrence during production, all we’re left with is an over-complicated, overblown and incredibly dumb movie that amounts to nothing more than a chain of incredibly contrived set-pieces and Bruce mugging his way through the whole thing (Exhibit A). Due to their relatively brief appearances, I can only assume that pantomime villains Richard E Grant and Sandra Bernhard had most of their scenes cut to spare the audience from their relentless obnoxiousness (Exhibit B).
Exhibit B: They’re about to take over the world, you know
There is such a complete lack of logic in Hudson Hawk that anyone who is unfortunate enough sit through the movie will find themselves with a bald patch by the end credits because they’ll be scratching their heads the whole way through. Ask yourself why no one else in the bar bats an eyelid when the bad guy shoots Hudson’s coffee cup. Ask yourself why the bad guys have to get Hudson to stick the incredibly easy puzzle thing together. And finally, ask yourself what was going through the heads of Bruce Willis and James Coburn during their Tom-and-Jerry-esque fight sequence.
I implore the jury to find Hudson Hawk guilty. If my reasons above are not enough, I would ask them to come up with another movie with such blatant product placement. Only a movie this stupid would have bad guys named after chocolate bars and include the line ‘will you play Nintendo with me?’ at a key romantic moment, along with two key characters called the Mario brothers. The answer would surely be no, especially if Hudson Hawk was propositioning someone to play the terrible Nintendo game loosely connected the movie (Exhibit C).
Exhibit C: Will you play Nintendo with me? No thanks...
I don’t blame the prosecution for not appreciating Hudson Hawk. It’s easy to pick on a movie that had obvious problems during production and didn’t perform well at the cinema. It’s by no means a perfect movie but there is a lot to love in the tale of the coffee-drinking rogue. Okay, the final product may not equal the sum of its parts, but bear this in mind—there is no other movie with the same odd combination of slapstick, treasure-hunting thrills and great tunes (Exhibit D).
Exhibit D: The unique formula for success
I’ll concede that there are some bad jokes, especially the Mona Lisa gag in the opening scene, however there are some genuine laughs to be had with an odd-looking Vatican hotline phone and the use of a tennis ball gun to get rid of Sandra Berhard’s dog (an idea that seems to have been picked up as the primary weapon for the video game). I’ll also agree that the in-movie branding is pretty heavy-handed but there are also some moments of flair in the production, including some nice graphical matches in the editing.
The greatest enjoyment comes from the convincing relationship between Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello’s characters (Exhibit E). They both seem to be having a hell of a time in the movie and never once look like they’re embarrassed by the limitations of the screenplay (or lack thereof). It’s also good to see James Coburn in any movie and active viewers will pick up on a reference to his Flint movies that was ripped off for Austin Powers. Many of the character names are fairly stupid but at least naming his character George Kaplan gives another nod in a respectable direction.
Exhibit E: Not a hint of shame
Finally—and most importantly—what my learned friend for the prosecution fails to appreciate is the fact that Hudson Hawk was way ahead of its time. There’s no film quite like it. Where else will you find a combination of cartoon slapstick and so much foul language that it would appear some lines had to be (badly) dubbed on the UK DVD to avoid an 18 rating? Best of all is the ingenious use of swing tunes to track the timing of our hero’s burgling escapades. Yes, it makes no sense but it’s also unashamedly entertaining. Well, they say finish on a song so here’s Exhibit F to convince you how great this movie really is.
Exhibit F: I challenge you not to enjoy this
Prosecution: Objection! This evidence is inadmissible due to Bruce Willis's previous crimes against music.
Judge: Overruled. The jury is asked not to take previous crimes into consideration. Now it is over to the visitors of DVDActive. Do you find Hudson Hawk guilty or not guilty?
Editorial by Scott McKenzie
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