out of Five
Running time: 111
Amusing comedy-thriller that takes some well-aimed swipes at both Hollywood and action movies in general – worth seeing for Ford’s nicely-observed performance.
Writer-director Ron Shelton has an established reputation for two things: delivering likeable, well-acted, character-based ‘sports comedy-dramas’ that may or may not star Kevin Costner (such as Bull Durham, Tin Cup and White Men Can’t Jump) and for always writing a part for his wife, Lolita Davidovich.
Currently, he seems to be mining something of a creative streak based on LA cops – his last film was the gritty, police corruption drama Dark Blue (with Kurt Russell) and his latest film is a character-based cop comedy-thriller which would seem to be the flip-side of his previous film. Happily, however, some things don’t change and Lolita Davidovich still appears - as a high class hooker.
Harrison Ford plays LA detective Joe Gavillan, assigned to Hollywood
Homicide with his rookie partner, KC Calden (Josh Hartnett). The central joke is that, far from being career-obsessed supercops (as Russell was in Dark Blue), both men have alternate careers on the side – Joe is a struggling real-estate salesman desperate to land a big sale and KC would much rather be an actor and moonlights as a Buddhist yoga instructor (which he admits he got into for the women, but it has unearthed his spiritual side).
The pair are assigned the case of a multiple slaying in a hip-hop club, a case that eventually leads them to the desk of tyrannical record boss Isiah Washington. At the same time, Joe is under investigation by an internal affairs cop with a grudge (Bruce Greenwood), for ‘co-mingling of funds’. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, after doing a little co-mingling of a different kind, Joe discovers that his new girlfriend (sexy radio psychic Ruby, played by Leno Olin) is Greenwood’s ex…
Surprising Touch From Ford
The emphasis of the film is much more on the character-based comedy than it is on the plot itself and the actors respond with superb performances. Ford, in particular, reveals a surprisingly light touch and has a lot of fun with his own image as both romantic lead (his ‘doughnut sex’ scene) and action hero (a great bit where he nicks a little girl’s bike for a chase scene).
There are several good scenes. Highlights include Joe closing a real estate deal while mid-car-chase and a bizarre interrogation sequence when they get taken in by Internal Affairs. There are also some quality running gags, such as Motown fan Joe’s continuously ringing phone that plays the first few bars of “My Girl” or KC’s constant impromptu rehearsals for an audition for A Streetcar Named Desire (“Stellaaaaaaa!”).
There are also some great cameos (Martin Landau as the movie producer whose house Joe tries to sell) and some awful ones (Eric Idle, who, thankfully is only onscreen for a few seconds).
In short, the plot may have its sillier moments (e.g. Ruby’s psychic powers seem to lead her to where the killer’s car just happens to be) but the performances and the quality of the gags mean that this is never less than entertaining. Worth seeing.