Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson, Reginald VelJohnson, Scott Paulin | Director: Roger Spottiswoode | Producer: Michael Hertzberg
A young (pre-Oscar-winning) Tom Hanks shares the spotlight with a hilarious trained dog in this canine/cop “buddy movie.”
Hanks is Scott Turner, a police investigator who is about to transfer to a big city because no serious criminal cases occur in his town and he wants a challenge. Then several weird things occur the same day, including the murder of an old man who saw and reported suspicious activity at a seafood shipping plant. Turner assumes that the man’s dog “Hooch” probably saw the murder and can ID the killer (which is correct); and since Hooch is too large and ferocious for ordinary animal handlers, the normally ultra-neat Turner must take the neglected animal home to keep him from being destroyed. Hooch (a French Mastiff, a large breed that drools out of the corners of its mouth) proceeds to wreck Turner’s home, police car, etc.
There are several on-screen killings, implied sex between Turner and a lady veterinarian whom he’s known for only a few days (with her making the first move), and some sexual joking and other mild profanities from and between the cops. There is also some cold-hearted treachery between the bad guys—no honor among thieves here. Turner is shown several times in just his brief, tight underwear. As a cop story, this is a weak plot with the normal amount of offensive material, and therefore is very ignorable. The point of the film, of course, is developing the relationship between the title characters; the cop story is secondary. In an era of very few comedies that are really funny, this one does have a lot of laughs as that relationship develops. But all that should be shown to younger kids are “selected scenes.” Besides the objectionable material noted above, the ending is sad (although it’s tempered with a little bit of a cross between “Lady and the Tramp” and “Old Yeller”).
There was a short-lived spinoff TV series of the same name, with Thomas F. Wilson (the bad guy from the “Back to the Future” movies) in the role of Turner.
Year of Release—1989