Turner and Hooch

Turner and Hooch. Touchstone Pictures 1989.

Before watching the movie:

It occurs to me that while this is significant in the zeitgeist, or at least in the Hanksgeist, I’m not sure in what way. It gets referenced as something anyone who knows about Tom Hanks should know, but I’m not sure if that’s meant as a high point or a low point. Opinions will differ, but is it an adorable action comedy masterpiece, or that time Tom Hanks had to spend an hour and a half yelling at a dog? People seem to expect me to know already. Maybe I will now.

After watching the movie:

Scott Turner’s boring time as a police investigator in a small Northern California town where nothing happens is nearing its end, as he’s getting ready to move to a more exciting Highway Patrol position in Sacramento. When Amos, an old man who Scott befriended on the beat, is murdered for no apparent reason, Scott’s last days in town become focused on two tasks: finding Amos’s killer, and much more difficult, taking in Amos’s big, loud, messy, obnoxious dog Hooch.

It is very, very easy to condense this movie into “big dog is big and a living hell and a friend questionmark?”, and rather difficult to meaningfully describe in another way. It spend most of its runtime just letting Scott and the dog interact entertainingly, then on letting Scott and Emily the vet interact entertainingly, and it seems like developing and resolving the plot that puts the three together comes a distant third. Which is not a bad way to structure a movie, it’s just a bad way to structure a movie that can be usefully summarized.

While I don’t make it a secret that I typically dislike irrelevant romances getting squeezed into stories like obligations, Scott and Emily are very cute together, and I enjoyed their subplot despite it definitely being tangential. Scott and Hooch as a relationship I never really connected with beyond the basic buddy plot. There’s plenty of fun moments, but when the “actually they really like each other” beats come, I’m just not emotionally invested.

Probably because the amount I like dogs correlates inversely with their increasing size, while the individual moments were all fairly funny, the whole ends up feeling kind of bland. Really, I think I’d rather see a romantic comedy between Hanks and Winningham than between Hanks and his four-footed costar. I didn’t think such a life-like comedy could be so forgettable.
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