From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Movie Retrospectives: Bombs Away Week
The Defendant: Hudson Hawk

Description of the defendant:
Eddie "Hudson Hawk" Hawkins (Bruce Willis), one of the world's foremost cat burglars, is out of Sing Sing after a 10 year stretch from his last job. Once on the outside, he and his partner Tommy Five Tone (Danny Aiello) find themselves being blackmailed by the mob, the CIA (led by James Coburn), and some psychotic entrepreneurs named Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard) to try and steal three priceless works that belonged to Leonardo Da Vinci. Trying to stop him is a mysterious woman from the Vatican (Andie McDowell), who happens to be a nun and speaks with a slight southern accent. This is the script equivalent of a Baptist Church potluck. You have no idea what you're going to get.

Crimes against moviegoing humanity:
Extensive Bruce Willis camera mugging - Willis, two years removed from his heyday on Moonlighting and just out of another box office bomb (the adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities), has no reason to be even remotely as smug as he is throughout this movie. He also headlined the equally abominable The Last Boy Scout released that same year. Anyone participating in three pieces of crap like that within a two year period has no right to be smug at all, not matter how much he's getting paid. Add to that the fact that Willis helped come up with this cockamamie story, and the smirk is about as appropriate as a klansman at a NAACP rally.
Overreliance on cute nicknames for characters - Aiello's Tommy Five Tone happens to be the most subtle example of this, as Coburn's crew of CIA spooks are all code named after candy bars. This also leads to the best bad line of the movie (see below).
Gratuitous use of Sandra Bernhard - The woman was mildly tolerable doing standup and hosting Comedy Central's old stand up highlight show The A List
. Getting her obnoxious shtick for a good part of a 100 minute movie may violate the Geneva convention. Absolutely God-awful.
Use of golden oldies as a plot device/schtick - For reasons never explained (and probably best left unknown), Hawkins is constantly rattling off the time lengths of various golden oldies songs as Aiello and other characters name them. We come to find that Five Tone and Hawk use these songs as timing devices when executing a job. Leaving aside just how unbelievably contrived and stupid an idea this is, even a tone deaf schmuck like myself has to ask the question: And we're supposed to believe these flipping morons stay in time on the song the whole way through every single time they pull a job? Actually accepting this might be possible qualifies audience members to vote for W. in 2004.

Guilt/shame by association:
James Coburn - Has to be rolling over in his grave thinking about the fact that his name appears on this waste of celluloid.
Andie MacDowell - While I freely admit she's not a great actress, she was only two years removed from a really great role in the brilliant sex, lies, and videotape
. I've come to think that making bonehead picks like this script when alternated with good choices like Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral will be par for the course for this woman. Maybe she should just stick to the cosmetics commercials. They're safer.

Best awful line:
When introduced to the Candy Bar crew of Coburn, Willis is approached by actress Lorraine Toussaint, who bears the moniker of Almond Joy. To which she adds "Candy bars. Cute huh? It used to be diseases. Do you have any idea what it's like to spend a few years known as Chlamydia?" We can only assume it's less painful than watching this movie.

Time served:
Nominated for 6 Razzies, winning 3 in 1992, including worst picture, director (Michael Lehmann), and screenplay.
Amazingly, rated 5.1 stars out of 10 on out of 7249 votes cast, making the film in imdb's view considerably more average than the mouth breathers who rated this movie favorably.
33% Fresh rating on 6 positive reviews out of 18 (the film pre-dates the Rotten Tomatoes lifespan I think. The reviews listed may be from the video release).

Best critical line on Rotten Tomatoes:
Limited choices, but this seems to sum it best:
"The plot is convoluted, the characters are silly and the ancient jokes, puns and sight gags are so low they make the Three Stooges seem sophisticated."

Any mitigating circumstances or good behavior?:

It's possible Willis really needed to bottom out artistically to take some of the chances he did with Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, and his fantastic performance in The Sixth Sense. If this trailer is any indication, he may be bottoming out again. Hopefully, we'll see some more good work from him again in 2006 or 2007 as a result.
Director Michael Lehmann directed an episode of The West Wing. That may be almost enough to spare him the cinematic death penalty.

Sentence issued:

Already doomed to being one of the biggest box office failures (grossing a paltry $17 million after costing a then heart stopping $65), that may be the only thing to say for the movie is that it was a commercial failure. And just as it fails miserably as an action movie, it can't even lay claim to being a great failure compared to some of the great train wrecks like Heaven's Gate (gross of $1.5 million on a $44 million budget. Roughly 3% of the budget compared to slightly more than 25% for Hawk). In the end, it's just a boring, annoying action/buddy comedy. That is punishment enough I think.