Doctor Detroit (1983) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for language, sexuality, brief nudity, and drug use
Running Time: 89 min.
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, T.K. Carter, Fran Drescher, Donna Dixon, Lydia Lei, Lynn Whitfield, Kate Murtagh, James Brown, Glenne Headley
Director: Michael Pressman
Screenplay: Carl Gottleib, Robert Boris, Bruce Jay Friedman
Review published July 2, 2005
Smooth Walker (Hesseman, Police Academy 2) is a Chicago pimp that is being threatened to hand over all his assets to the most dangerous of the underground baddies, a large and ruthless woman named Mom (Murtagh). Smooth refuses to hand over the women and goods, creating a fictitious third party gangster that has also been applying the same pressure -- a bad-ass pimp named Doctor Detroit. While Smooth hoped Mom would back down, now she wants a confrontation with the Doctor, so Smooth finds a hapless geek, a college professor named Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers), dresses him up as a maniacal pimp, gives him the women, and leaves the country. While Skridlow is over his head in the role, the girls convince him to stay, and soon he begins to enjoy his duality as the most respected and feared pimp in Chicago.
Dan Aykroyd gets the chance to cut completely loose into a wild character, and as funny as he can be improvising, the material is a major letdown. This would have been a lame idea for a five minute skit on Saturday Night Live, so when stretched out to 90 minutes, the results often encroach into excruciatingly stupid.
At least Aykroyd is surrounded by a decent cast, especially in the roles of the four prostitutes. Fran Drescher ("The Nanny") is appealing in an early role, as is Lynn Whitfield (Head of State). This is also the film where Dan Aykroyd would meet future wife Donna Dixon ("Bosom Buddies"), which is probably the only thing Aykroyd can be proud of from the experience.
The rest of it, however, is just frighteningly bad, with a witless script and a story that goes absolutely nowhere for the entire duration. Even an energetic appearance and performance by James Brown near the end of the film can spark life into this DOA idea for a movie. One thing we can all be thankful for is that the proposed sequel mentioned at the end of the movie, "Doctor Detroit II The Wrath of Mom", has never been made.
©1999 Vince Leo