Gene Hackman And Dan Aykroyd's Forgotten (And Awful) Buddy Cop Movie
Ah, the buddy-cop movie, a hallmark of the ‘80s action milieu. Following the success of Lethal Weapon, Hollywood just kept churning out stories about two mismatched partners who find common ground in order to murder a bunch of machine-gun-wielding, ponytailed cocaine dealers. One of the oddest examples of this trend was 1990’s Loose Cannons, a largely forgotten movie whose credits are so impressively eclectic, it’s as though every hiring decision was made by a dart-throwing chimp riding a mechanical bull ...
Starring as the two cops were screen legend Gene Hackman and former Ghostbuster/future vodka baron Dan Aykroyd. It was written by acclaimed science fiction author Richard Matheson (who penned some of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes of all time, not to mention the novel I Am Legend) along with his son and director Bob Clark of Porky’s and A Christmas Story fame. And the cherry on top of this sundae of randomness, the film was produced by TV soap opera icon Aaron Spelling.
The familiar set-up finds a haggard veteran cop (Hackman) getting paired up with a mentally unstable younger cop (Aykroyd) -- but in a wacky twist, the Aykroyd character suffers from multiple personality disorder, and all of the personalities are, for some reason, famous pop-culture characters. Imagine if 48 Hours co-starred Uncle Joey from Full House, and you might begin to get an inkling of just how annoying this thing is.
Weirdly, despite the ludicrous premise, the movie still strives for all of the drama and intensity of a gritty police procedural, which is why we get scenes of Dan Aykroyd doing cringey improv comedy at the site of several gruesome murders.
Weirder still, we eventually find out that the motive behind these murders involves a porn producer, played by Dom Deluise, who is being hunted down after viewing a film depicting a contemporary German politician and Adolf Hitler hooking up. Yes, the MacGuffin of this movie is, and we can’t stress this enough, Hitler’s sex tape.
This is supposed to be the serious part of the story, too; eventually, the FBI and Israeli Secret Service even get involved in the search for the fuhrer’s amateur porno. But still, we get scenes of Dan Aykroyd making his Captain Kirk impression while fighting literal Neo-Nazis. Taste is not this movie’s strong suit. By the end of the movie, Aykroyd’s character learns to kill again without doing a Clint Eastwood impression and comes up with perhaps the lamest action movie quip of ever --
And when the Hitler film is finally unveiled, it turns out to be a suicide film, not a sex tape, despite the fact that other characters had seen it and previously described it as such. No one even comments on this turn of events. It kind of just seems like the studio got freaked out by the idea of ending their movie with a gay Nazi sex scene and randomly changed the basis for the entire story hoping that most audiences would already be in the theatre lobby angrily yelling at the manager for a refund by then.
And you might think that nobody would have thought much about, or even mentioned, this movie between 1990 and now, but a few years ago, Loose Cannons made headlines for the oddest possible reason. In 2013, a Calgary landfill worker stumbled upon a stray bit of celluloid -- some frames from a movie, seemingly depicting a man hovering above a bloody corpse. Presuming it to be from some underground snuff film, he immediately notified the police.
The film was too old and dirty for him to recognize that the assailant in the film was actually legit movie star Dan Aykroyd, who had committed no real crime with the possible exception of unleashing Nothing But Trouble into the world. The police, noting the resemblance, contacted Aykroyd and eventually identified the image as belonging to Loose Cannons. When asked for comment, Aykroyd remarked: “The movie should have been left in the landfill where it belongs.”
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Top Image: TriStar Pictures