Monday Movie Musings: Hudson Hawk (1991)

I don't know whether to be ashamed or to celebrate that I had never seen Hudson Hawk until this past week. My friend had been quoting it for weeks, aghast once he found out that I hadn't seen it and continued to quote it between their friends. He was super excited to see what my response to this movie would be.

Let me tell: he was not disappointed.

As always, these will be SPOILERS conversations, though by now you should've seen this. It's not a statement about its quality, because I do think this is a derisive movie - a lot of people hate it or have learned to hate it through osmosis rather than experiencing it.

For the first thirty minutes of the movie, all I could think was that this movie exemplifies all the excess of the early nineties. It also shows Bruce Willis at his goofiest, but then, in the same scene usually, him pose and strutting, and showing that he is a badass actor who can play the macho-man and the goof at the same time. For context, Die Hard 2 had been released the year before. Bruce Willis was box office mojo right there and he went for this Action Comedy.

The basic plot is that he is THE Hudson Hawk, a master cat burglar who is roped into stealing priceless treasures of Da Vinci for an ego-maniacal set of lovers (the Mayflowers, played to psychotic perfection by Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard), so that they can flood the world's economy with gold and bring about the end of the world(?). Trust me, that's one of the saner parts of the movie. At one point, Hawk's love interest (played by Andie MacDowell) communicates with the Vatican by talking to a crucifix like it's a long range walkie-talkie.

I'm not even joking.

After the MTV-IA (Old/New CIA joke) appears, it dawned on me what this was. This movie is essentially a bastard love child of Terry Gilliam, the 90s, and Fifth Element, all combining into a story about a cat burglar in Europe. Makes sense? No, you're right. It shouldn't.

Even once I was able to make this connection (as weird as it is), I still sat through most of the movie, going, "What the fuck is this movie?" At times, Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello break out into song as a means of time-keeping, belting out Sinatra as they are robbing a museum. There's an old fashioned butler with a knife reminiscent of Assassin's Creed stashed in his sleeve, who asks us to excuse his dry British humor. There's even a guy who asks if he should "rape them," only to be placated with Green Eggs and Ham.

There's a lot in common, I think, with the Super Mario Bros movie. It's better, definitely better, but it calls to mind Looney Tunes and even Hot Shots: Part Deux, especially once it nears its finale.

So this might not sound like a glowing recommendation, but I had a blast watching this. I have now watched it twice in the last few days, subjecting my wife to it (and her response was a similar, "What the fuck?"), as well as my two-year-old. I'm sure that as it overtakes my brain, and leaves me a mewling idiot like Andie MacDowell talking about communicating with the dolphins and not being able to pay the rent, that I'll end up owning this by week's end.

If you haven't had the pleasure, check it out. It'll leave you pleasantly surprised.


Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.