At 25: “Turner & Hooch”

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July 28, 2014 by billysparrow

220px-Turner_and_hooch_posterTurner & Hooch

Released: July 28, 1989

Starring: Tom Hanks, Beasley the Dog, Mare Winningham, Reginald VelJohnson, Craig T. Nelson

“Turner & Hooch” is the clear winner in the Great 1989 Cop-and-a-Dog Movie Faceoff. I don’t even know how you can argue that point. We can, though, if you want. I live alone and have a lot of free time. Just let me know when you want to get together.

Or I could just break it down for you this way: Tom Hanks is better than Jim Belushi, and Hooch is better than Jerry Lee. And if you’re still willing to debate those two unassailable facts, then, by all means, let’s meet up for that debate. If nothing else, I want to see what a crazy person looks like.

While you’re making plans to have this debate, I’m going to post some clips.

The summer of 1989 falls within that time period where we all decided that Tom Hanks was cool. Sure, some people decided this back in the “Bosom Buddies” days, or when he was Uncle Ned on “Family Ties,” or maybe even in “Splash.” But in 1989, Hanks was a year removed from “Big” (and “Punchline,” which almost no one liked, but I did, and it makes me sad to think that I overlooked discussing it last year), and even though “The ‘Burbs” wasn’t as successful as hoped earlier in the year, there was among a certain segment of the population the sense that any movie with Tom Hanks was worth checking out.

And when I say “among a certain segment of the population,” I mean “among the people that lived in my bedroom in 1989,” which is to say, me. How do I know what the rest of the world was feeling in 1989? I can only assume they were all thinking the same way as I was. How could it be any different?

Anyway, Tom Hanks is very good in “Turner & Hooch,” though he is, of course, overshadowed by Beasley the Dog, who played–you guessed it–Hooch. But, hey, they did some great work together. And if you want to see Tom Hanks in his underwear, (a) I’m not judging you and (b) this is your movie.

I suppose it is possible to not like Tom Hanks, but I don’t see how the sight of Hooch could not bring joy to your heart. No disrespect to Jerry Lee in “K-9,” but, I mean, he’s no Hooch. That face. Those jowls. That drool.

I will go so far as to say that Hooch might be my all-time favorite movie star dog. Yeah, I said it. You got a problem with that? Look, I don’t want to fight. But I’ll fight over this if I have to. Please don’t push me.

“Turner & Hooch” also gets my respect for casting both Craig T. Nelson and Mare Winningham (a/k/a the person whose character in “St. Elmo’s Fire” I least want to throw down the stairs), both of whom are always pretty solid and enjoyable in whatever I see them in. And what isn’t made better by the inclusion of Reginald VelJohnson, the unsung hero of “Family Matters”?

I would like to explain further why I enjoy Craig T. Nelson so much in this particular movie, but I do not want to spoil the movie for you. Yes, I realize you’ve had 25 years to get around to it and really should’ve been more on the ball, but I really feel strongly about this (not as strongly as the whole “better than ‘K-9′” thing, but pretty strongly).

I am similarly hesitant to go into why I respect the ending to the movie, but, again, you should experience that for yourself if you haven’t. I’m sad that you haven’t, and even sadder if you haven’t but have seen “K-9.” But if that is the case, then let me just say this (SPOILER ALERT FOR LUNATICS WHO’VE SEEN “K-9” BUT NOT “TURNER & HOOCH,” OR THOSE WHO HAVE A TALENT FOR READING BETWEEN THE LINES OR PIECING TOGETHER MOVIE ENDINGS THROUGH CONTEXT CLUES): what “K-9” didn’t have the balls to do, “Turner & Hooch” does. Yes, there’s a slight cop-out at the end, but that had to be done if there was any hope of word-of-mouth helping to sell tickets rather than repel customers.

So, “K-9″/Jim Belushi/Jerry Lee lover, are you still up for that debate? Because I have only scratched the surface as relates to the vast superiority of “Turner & Hooch”/Tom Hanks/Beasley. I will show no mercy at this debate. Believe that. I’ll come after you like Hooch coming after a muffin.



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