Release Date: May 24, 1991
Studio: TriStar Pictures (Sony)
Director: Michael Lehmann
Cast: Bruce Willis; Danny Aiello; Andie MacDowell; Richard E. Grant; Sandra Bernhard
This movie has, in the 20-plus years since its release, become kind-of a punch line for jokes about Hollywood awful-ness….and deservedly so. Ostensibly a crime caper, there are elements of musical, comedy, adventure…but none of the various genres this movie tries to employ ever coalesce into a satisfying and cohesive product.
Bruce Willis plays Eddie, a.k.a “Hudson Hawk,” a famed cat burglar who, within minutes of being released from prison, is cuckolded into stealing a priceless Leonardo da Vinci work from an auction house. Almost from the git-go, numerous plot devices do not work. Number One: when Hudson Hawk (“HH”) and his buddy, Tommy (Danny Aiello) are in the process of stealing said priceless artifact (it’s not worth explaining why they were hired to do so), they do so whilst singing Frank Sinatra’s “Swinging On A Star,” in order to time the heist to the length of the song. Not a bad gimmick. But when HH and Tommy are singing, they belt at the top of their lungs like they are opening at Radio City! Aren’t cat burglars supposed to be as quiet as, well, cats?? Furthermore, none of the security guards seem to hear the noisy singing coming from just down the hallway. As a result, right off the bat, the movie strains our suspension of disbelief. Number Two: the Andie MacDowell character (Anna) is supposed to be the love interest. She is also supposed to be an undercover nun. Love interest…nun…hmmm?? OK, I would’ve bought it if the character stuck to one trait; she’s either the love interest, in which case I could maybe buy her professions of love to HH, or she’s a nun, in which case I cannot buy her smooching with Willis and flirting with him like a horny schoolgirl. The only semi-bright spots in the movie (and they’re not even that bright) are Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as megalomaniacal brother-sister team Darwin and Minerva Mayflower, hell-bent on (what else?) world domination! The two of them overact so much that I almost felt like throwing them a life preserver! But it’s a, relatively speaking, welcome diversion from the mess of a movie that surrounds them.
As for the rest of the film, it’s stuffed with ugly sets (impressive considering that the film was shot in such exotic locations as Rome and Budapest), inane dialogue (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Andie MacDowell squeaking like a dolphin!), and idiotic action sequences, which I’m sure the filmmakers thought were high-adventure. I’m not even going to bother mentioning the other subplots involving the CIA (using candy bar code-names) or HH’s endless search for a cappuccino. All in all, a mess. All involved should be embarrassed. I am for having watched it from beginning to end.