Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hudson Hawk

Year 8, Day 212 - 7/30/16 - Movie #2,407

BEFORE: We're off to New Jersey today, to visit with my wife's friends, and attend some kind of hot air balloon festival.  I agreed to this because I figured I'd need a break after Comic-Con, but it's really all the work I've done since arriving back from San Diego that's been wearing me out. At one job I've been frantically typing up the dialogue list for a new animated feature, so the film's French distributor can start the process of translating and subtitling it.  They need this, like, yesterday.  At the other job I've been working on applying for an NEA grant for a different animated feature, and that deadline was on Thursday.  I took my boss to a beer and food tasting event to celebrate the fact that we got the grant application in on time.  But between the script, the grant and the beer, I feel like I've been going a mile a minute for the past few days - and I missed a whole five days for Comic-Con, including a weekend I'll never get back.  So I think I'm due for some down time.  

Bruce Willis carries over again from "Vice", and I know this film has a pretty bad reputation, often referred to as one of the worst films of all time.  Come on, could it really be THAT bad? 

THE PLOT: A cat burglar is forced to steal Da Vinci works of art for a world domination plot.

AFTER: Yep, a movie really can be as bad as its reputation - in fact, I think this film exceeded all expectations for being a bad film.  Worse than bad, it's pointless.  Like, I can get if a film is bad, and doesn't really set out to be any good, because sometimes it just is what it is, which is a bad movie.  But a bad movie that thinks it might be a good movie is somehow even worse, because it's struggling to no avail, or someone is delusional about their ability to make a good, coherent film. 

And make no mistake, this film is incoherent, to the point of being nonsense.  It's like someone wanted to cross an art heist film with an adventure film like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" but believed that the problems with those films is that they just didn't have enough slapstick comedy in them.  So by all means, let's add a lot of people getting punched or shot with sedative darts and then losing body control, or falling out of an ambulance and being dragged along on a gurney via a bedsheet.  Because, you know, that happens all the time.  

And let's make the hero vie with both art collectors and the CIA, because those factions are always chasing after the same things, right?  And for good measure let's assume that just because Leonardo Da Vinci proposed rough versions of the helicopter and the parachute, that he was some kind of magical inventor who also could turn lead into gold, and that his journal also contains many other ideas for machines that we haven't even thought of yet.  By my way of thinking, this is a huge NITPICK POINT, because while Da Vinci was ahead of his time, there clearly was a limit - he never could have predicted the internet, cell phones, or tamper-proof voting machines, because he just didn't have the basic mindset to formulate those ideas.  

The most interesting thing about the Hudson Hawk character might be his ability to remember how long every song ever recorded is, but instead of using this talent on, say, a game show, he instead uses it to help with heists - if a robbery is expected to take, say, four and a half minutes, he'll choose a song of that length, and he and his partner will sing it to help maintain their rhythm and pacing while stealing the artifact in question.  Fine, but I've got three problems with this.  1) The estimate of how long the robbery will take is just that, an estimate.  It could be way off, which means that it would be easy to pick the wrong song, and lull themselves into a false sense of security.  2) Any song can be sung in any tempo, which means that unless they've got a metronome handy during the heist, they could easily sing the song too slowly or too fast, and then this defeats the whole purpose.  As someone points out in the film, how is this process superior to wearing a watch?  and 3) During a robbery, a thief is supposed to be QUIET.  Singing during the heist seems very counter-productive. Heck, let's call that NITPICK POINT #2 just for good measure.

ASIDE: I never understood that song "Swinging on a Star" from the 1940's (or whenever) - I mean, I get that the song is sort of instructional, telling kids not to act like greedy pigs or stubborn mules, but it's not phrased metaphorically.  Quite plainly it states, "You might grow up to be a pig" or "You might grow up to be a fish" when those things are, in fact, impossible.  Why suggest to a kid that he can be an animal when he grows up, forcing him to be disappointed in the future?  Or is it some kind of Hindu karmic thing, suggesting that in the next life maybe we can be pigs and mules and fish?  Somehow that doesn't seem right, either. End of ASIDE. 

Of course, since this is a movie, this plan always works like a charm (umm, or not) and Hudson Hawk usually ends up with the thing he was trying to steal.  Except here there are so many factions looking for the same things (which are or contain clues to Da Vinci's lost devices) that there are double-crosses within double-crosses, and by the end I couldn't tell which end was up, or who was working for whom.  

Furthermore, I didn't even understand the point of the villains learning how to make gold, at least not from the way they described it.  If alchemy were possible, and I had a machine that made gold, I would use it only sparingly, the most obvious thing to do would be to sell the gold I made, a little at a time - because too much gold would devalue the gold market, and then it would all be worthless.  The villains here want to make a LOT of gold, thereby collapsing the world's economy, so they can rule the world.  Great, but how are they going to do that, after flooding the market with gold?  If they devalue gold as a currency, won't they be in a terrible financial position, and therefore unable to take over?  From any viewing angle, their plan is just more nonsense in a sea of nonsense. Thus we have NITPICK POINT #3.

Also starring Danny Aiello (last seen in "The Pick-Up Artist"), Andie MacDowell (last seen in "Ruby Cairo"), James Coburn (last seen in "Maverick"), Richard E. Grant (last seen in "About Time"), Sandra Bernhard (last seen in "Nice Dreams"), Don Harvey (also carrying over from "Vice"), David Caruso, Donald Burton, Andrew Bryniarski, Lorraine Toussaint, Frank Stallone, Carmine Zozzora, with the voices of Frank Welker, William Conrad. 

RATING: 2 out of 10 Wong numbers

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