1991. Directed by Michael Lehmann
A wonderfully terrible film of musical mayhem, Hudson Hawk was a bomb on all fronts. Critics loathed it and audiences despised it. However, this film has gathered a cult following over the years and it's due to a perfect storm of cinematic savant.
The Hawk is the best cat burglar on Earth and, upon his release from prison (He never got to play Nintendo) he's recruited for one last epic globetrotting heist to recover DaVinci's alchemical masterpiece.
Bruce Willis is perfectly cast as the anti-tough guy and he eats it up, bringing a New Jersey Shore bravado to an already Mad Hatter tea part level of insanity.
The plot is not what you came for. This film works because it was an attempt at the counterculture of blockbuster action films that were saturating the box office during the 90's. It takes every single trope of those ticky-tacky films and exploits them to the viewer's delight.
There's a few things that make this work. First, is the musical aspect. Every heist is timed to a show tune sung by Willis and Danny Aiello and it's the stuff that dreams are made of.
But the true power of the film is in the larger than life characters:
The CIA Candy Bars (They used to be STD's) are a rogue's gallery of comedic genius. From the young David Caruso as the mute Kit Kat to their insidious leader Kaplan (a scene stealing James Coburn) the CIA's worst assassins light up the screen with their every appearance.
The legendary Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernard give career high performances as the insane ultra rich villains behind the scenes. Bernard's monologues are like nails on chalk, but their interplay with Willis, Grant, and Andie McDowell (THE DOLPHIN IS DEAD!) make them not only bearable, but memorable.
From the dual-knife wielding butler, to the tweedle-dee twin henchman, to a sadistic ball happy dog, Hudson Hawk is action comedy on display.
There's not much in the technical arena to marvel at, but the script, is a touchstone. Daniel Waters and Steven De Souza's script is an example of how comedy for comedy's sake should be performed in cinema. The one liners are the stuff of legends and you'll be asking for reindeer goat cheese pizza every time you step into a New Jersey pub after viewing this furnace of comedic malice.
Hawk's endless quest for a Cappucino is symbolic of this frenzied story of cops, robbers, and a limo with a built in sprinkler system trying to find its meaning.
True ambrosia if you're in the mood for comic abandon.
Available on Amazon, Vudu, & Itunes for streaming rental.