Saturday, January 8, 2011

Movie of the Week

This week,

DRAGNET (1987)

Starring- Dan Aykroyd, Tom Hanks, Christopher Plummer, Alexandra Paul

Before the annoying rash of old T.V. shows being made into movies made us all squirm, there was one film that did it first and did it best. Dragnet is that film. This movie is both an homage and a parody of the classic cop drama, with Dan Aykroyd channeling the late Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday. While the film does make fun of some of the police procedural elements that the original show relied on, great care is taken to preserve the legacy of a T.V. classic. Many of the original actors and signature lines are present in the film, most notably the in appearance of the great Harry Morgan as Capt. Gannon.

As the foil for Aykroyd's by-the-book, uptight Friday, we get Tom Hanks, in his best comedic role, as loose cannon Pep Streebeck. The film's biggest strength is the interplay between these two, and the dialogue is full of sharp, witty banter that keeps things lively. The plot follows Friday and Streebeck as they investigate a series of crimes that are perpetrated by the P.A.G.A.N.s (People Against Goodness and Normalcy). The trail leads them through a gauntlet of colorful characters, including the Hugh Hefner-esque porno lord Jerry Caesar, played by the hilarious Dabney Coleman, and the cheesy, moral activist Reverend Wherley, played by Christopher Plummer.

The whole movie feels like one long, funny episode, with great scenes along the way that build the relationship of our two polar opposite main characters. Streebeck buttons up a bit, while Friday loosens up and finds love in the form of the virgin, Connie Swail. No scene misses an opportunity for humor or a reference to the source material, as Friday gets off all the signature lines "Just the Facts," "This is the city..." and "Yassir, Captain." Forget Charlie's Angels or Get Smart or any of that other T.V. show into movie crap, and see the pinnacle of the genre again, or for the first time.

Things to watch for-

Sylvia Wiss
Fresh Wholesome Milk
Detective Star Trek
Goat Leggings
Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks rap

"Listen, hotshot. I'm gonna tell you something right now. I don't care for you or for the putrid sludge you're troweling out. But until they change the laws and put you sleaze kings out of business, my job is to help you get back your stench ridden boxes of smut. And since I'll be doing it holding my nose, I'll be doing it with one hand."

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