CABLE4EVER - HOT PURSUIT

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I think I've seen enough of this film to render a verdict.  I saw the latter two-thirds of the movie, having seen the whole thing some 15 odd years ago.  This thing will probably still be on cable in another 15 years; there but for the grace of John Cusack...

In the same vein of 'Better Off Dead', 'Hot Pursuit' starts off as a tome of angst and self-pity as student Dan Bartlett (John Cusack) chases after the girl of his dreams, Lori Cronenberg.  Not your typical movie chase to be sure, a sustained adrenalin rush punctuated with near-misses, followed immediately by beratings, covering land and sea, island hopping, what have you, the movie goes through a bizarre shift in tones from pleasant comedy to a romp through the '80s stereotypes of corrupt Mexican prisons and island dictatorships, with a double cross Club Med-style.  John Cusack's character is transformed from a likable pushover to Rambo in a T-shirt, culminating in one scene where he's on the back of a Jeep with a machine gun, firing indiscriminately into the woods behind him; there must be no dead bodies in a PG-13 comedy with machine gun fire.  But let's not forget the sailor-ly wisdom he receives from 'Mac' MacClaren (Robert Loggia, in a pleasant enough role), thereby providing Bartlett with the street-smarts Yin to his book-smarts Yang.  ("Test! I'm not talkin' about some piece of paper...")

There are others who can speak to this concept more eloquently than I, but in the end movies like this are a by-product of the times in which they are made.  Movies like 'Hot Pursuit', 'Club Paradise' and 'Commando' that revel in the myth that since the Reagan administration drove the U.S. economy as completely as possible into the ditch, Americans must seek solace offshore, in a nice island paradise, where it's warm and the prices are cheap.  Maybe even move there!  (There's also a line in 'Timecop' that spells this same theme out, by a Presidential hopeful no less! :)  But watch out for those militant locals, especially the ones with machine guns; where's the NRA when you need them?  I gotta add 'The Mosquito Coast' to the mix, too: the private sector, embodied ideally by one guy, will succeed in the 3rd World where the whole U.S. Government has failed at home.

What 'Hot Pursuit' is burdened with in clichéd plot (The dialogue is above average considering the plot) it makes up for in cast and location.  There's a good supporting cast in Robert Loggia, Jerry Stiller and son Ben in a rather smarmy role, but John Cusack single-handedly carries the film, and single-handedly keeps the film from sliding into video store oblivion.  As for the Cronenbergs, they're one of the most WASP-ish movie families I've ever seen!  They don't look like Cronenbergs, more like Rutherfords.  Wendy Gazelle does a good job fending off Ben Stiller's advances; she had kind of a Britney Spears thing going at the time.  Also, the patriarch of the Cronenberg family finds his own inner Rambo about the same time Cusack's character does; a strong endorsement for that wedding in the midst, if only the box office returns had been a little more.

And of course let's not forget to mention / skewer the director Steven Lisberger, of 'Tron' fame.  You have to at least hand it to him; "Hot Pursuit" is definitely a departure from that movie and probably a thematic opposite; he's at least going against the grain of every other successful director who has the annoying tendency to include certain specific themes into each picture.  Douglas Trumbull never just threw up his hands and made a picture like 'Hot Pursuit', or Brett Leonard for that matter.  For his triumphant return to the throne by way of Sequelville, he may be getting a little too inside the Silicon beltway with a title like 'Tron Killer App'; narrowed down after going through a list of thousands of titles like 'Tron: From C++ to C#", "Garbage In Garbage Out: Tron 2003", "Tron :)", and of course the rather unfortunate "Tron IUnknown".  Oh yeah, and considering what's happened to the state of special effects in the interim, this next Tron better be a Killer 'App'.

**1/2

-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan

(c)2004 Bulk Entertainment

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