Kevin: While we at Tough Guy Digest like to think of ourselves as cinema connoisseurs, there’s obviously a lot out there that we still haven’t gotten around to seeing. That’s why we came up with the Tough Guy Challenge, in which we force a member of the staff to watch something he has previously not seen that he may either love or turn out to hate.
For instance, today I am challenging CJ to watch “Hudson Hawk,” Bruce Willis’ 1991 attempt to channel both his wiseass “Moonlighting” character and blues singer “Return of Bruno” persona into a globetrotting James Bond-style caper. When the movie came out the critics called it an over-budget, self-indulgent vanity project for Willis, and its disastrous box office put Bruce’s movie career in jeopardy before he came back with a vengeance in “The Last Boy Scout.” However, since then “Hudson Hawk” has developed a small cult following due to its go-for-broke style of comedy, campy performances from everyone from Frank Stallone to David Caruso to Sandra Bernhardt, and willingness to stop itself cold for the occasional musical number.
So as a Bruce fan CJ, were the critics originally right that the movie is just a two-hour ego trip for Willis, or do its defenders have a point that there is more to appreciate?
CJ: There is nothing to appreciate in this movie. And think about how damning that statement is.
The Tough Guy staff, as well as the dear readers of this site, have our personal preferences in franchises, actors, directors, etc. We can always find something positive in the things we love. For example, an actor could put out a not-so-great movie, but maybe it had good action sequences, or a comedy wasn’t great but had a couple of good chuckles in there. As an unwavering fan of Bruno, I’m actually a little depressed I can’t find a single redeeming part of “Hudson Hawk.” Does the fact that it perhaps resulted in “The Last Boy Scout” count? Yes? No? It’s no, isn’t it? Dammit.
I’m not joking, when the movie first started I actually thought Google Play had made a mistake in its library and had started to play another movie. I stopped it, and started it again, and realized that no, Google Play had not made a mistake, Bruce had. Here were my opening thoughts as the movie’s opening credits rolled:
(Text says “Once Upon a Time …”)
Me: Jesus fucking Christ.
(Second-billed Danny Aiello)
Me: Jesus fucking Christ.
(Frank Stallone billed at some point)
Me: Maybe …?
It was all downhill from there. Side note, did you guys know Danny Aiello is Italian? He needs to bring this up more.
One of the biggest takeaways from this movie was learning how Bruce Willis thinks. For example, in one scene Hudson Hawk’s big comeback line was “slurp my butt.” Think about that. John McClane, he of “Yippie ki-yay motherfucker!” fame, now tells a bad guy to slurp his butt. If you were on the receiving end of this line would you crumple into a sobbing heap at that zinger, or would you probably just look at Brucey like a confused dog before mercilessly beating the shit out of him and then deciding to go fuck his wife for good measure? Suffice to say, if you ever find yourself with Bruce in a bar and it looks like shit is about to go down, immediately side with the other group.
Another depressing trip into the mind of Bruce is after he and Danny “Gobbagool” Aiello sing and dance their way through the museum robbery. And by sing and dance I literally mean sing and dance. But it’s okay cause we all know museums at night are incredibly loud and no one will hear you; I saw “Night at the Museum,” so I’m in the know.
So after this robbery, Hudson learns that what they were stealing was a fake, or the wrong one, I really don’t know cause I stopped giving this movie my full attention. Either way, he walks back into the museum in disguise. Bruce was clearly channeling his days avoiding the paparazzi and us common filthy folk because his brilliant disguise was to put on sunglasses. There isn’t a joke here, I just really think in everyday life Bruce Willis might be an idiot.
Honestly this movie is so stupid. I had to Wikipedia it to get some of the character names, and happened to catch a line that pointed out that “Throughout the adventure, Hudson is foiled in attempts to drink a cappuccino.” Honest to shit, I never even noticed this. This made me wonder what other things I didn’t pick up on:
- Frank Stallone and Carmine Zozzara play Cesar and Anthony Mario – the Mario Brothers! While I didn’t pick up on that, it DOES explain why there were several forced Nintendo references from Hudson that I think I was supposed to laugh at. Like at the end of the movie when Hudson’s big romantic line to Andie MacDowell is “Would you like to play some Nintendo with me?” Now that I know how Bruce’s mind works, that’s probably an upgrade from real life where he probably just points at a girl and says “BRUCE BOOBS LIKE!” Then again, he was a bartender from Jersey, so he probably just called them whores while pointing at his Jets t-shirt.
- Speaking of Frank Stallone, I reached out to him and asked what working on the movie was like. I was hoping I’d get a juicy tidbit or something that would shift blame away from Bruce, but unfortunately Frank just said, “I was very excited to get the part. It was a studio picture and I had a lot of fun working on the film with my friends.” This leads me to believe Frank Stallone is a class act and the type of guy who could probably teach me cool things about wine. Also totally unrelated, Frank Stallone was GREAT in this picture!
- The main bad guys are named Darwin and Minerva. I’m convinced this was done because Bruce wanted us to make some kind of connection between “On the Origin of Species” and the Roman gods, but the joke is on him because we all know people from New Jersey can’t read!
- The character Butterfinger is a rip-off of Brian Bosworth’s cop John Stone in “Stone Cold.” Psych! I totally noticed that!
- I don’t know, fuck David Caruso.
Whoever it is that says this is a cult classic is an asshole who is just trying to make us all think they see something we don’t. But if you ever meet someone like that, just kick him in the balls. Although if he’s present of mind enough to tell you to slurp his butt, it’s okay to laugh, cause that would actually be funny.
Kevin: CJ were you even aware that this movie is rated R? We talked in the “Lethal Weapon” Round Table about how action movies back then really earned their R rating with at least some boobs as well as bloodshed. But this is about as far from earning it’s rating as possible. While I find it refreshing that a studio back then let a nearly $100 million summer blockbuster out with an R, you could easily cut out the f-words and get a PG rating for this thing, especially since the “comedy” is pretty much pitched at a 10-year-old’s level.
To wit, the movie tries to get laughs from two different people having grotesquely bad teeth within the first five minutes. Along those lines, here are a couple of one-liners from Bruce that make it pretty clear that Shane Black did not write this thing:
“How’s my driving? Dial 1-800-I’m gonna fucking die.”
“I guess we see who wears the penis in this family.”
“Guess you won’t be going to that hat convention in July!”
This last one is delivered after the evil butler has been decapitated, and it makes absolutely no sense. For one thing we never see the butler wear any hats, much less have an affinity for hats. I guess it’s true that not having a head makes his participation in the hat convention unnecessary, but I think his attendance is far more likely to be affected by the fact that he’s dead. Also, is a hat convention even a real thing? And even if it was, how would Hudson be aware that it is happening in July?
Has anyone ever come out of a film and said, “God Andie MacDowell was great, I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role”?
One good thing I’ll say about this movie: At one point Andie mentions “the Da Vinci code,” and I realized “Hudson Hawk” is still far more entertaining than that piece of shit movie. This goodwill immediately evaporated when Andie later does a dolphin impression for what seems like 20 minutes.
Also did you catch that when the butler faces off with Bruce at the end he is wearing Indian warpaint on both cheeks? Why the hell did he do that?
CJ: “Why the hell did he do that?” was basically what I said every 30 seconds during this movie.
That dolphin scene was so confusing. Honest to god, are they sitting there writing this going “This … this right here … this is gonna bring the house DOWN!”
Kevin: Let’s just end this by acknowledging that at least the movie does not leave us hanging on the cappuccino issue, as the old-timey narrator makes sure to tell us that “With the world saved and the secrets of Da Vinci protected, Eddie finally got his coffee.” Whew, thank god they cleared that up.
Also, an interesting bit of trivia from IMDB that you may not have known about “Hudson Hawk”: “The characters Almond Joy, Butterfinger, Kit Kat, and Snickers are named after the popular candy bars of the same name.” No way! I was totally wondering about that! Maybe this movie has more layers than we thought. Someone else can watch to find out though, cause it sure as hell aint gonna be us.