K-9 (1989) / Action-Comedy
MPAA rated: PG-13 for violence, some sexuality, and language
Running time: 101 min.
Cast: James Belushi, Mel Harris, Rando, Kevin Tighe, Ed O'Neill, Daniel Davis, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Small role: William Sadler, Dan Castellanata
Director: Rod Daniel
Screenplay: Steven Siegel, Scott Myers
Review published October 28, 2012
A buddy cop movie with one of the buddies as a canine, and one of two prominent ones to come out in 1989 (Turner and Hooch being the other). Most of the film rides on the comedic performance by Jim Belushi (Real Men, About Last Night), who does manage to turn in one of his better ones, despite the tired plot of a big bust to take down a major drug shipment before it leaves town.
Belushi stars as Michael Dooley, a smart-alecky, loose cannon San Diego narcotics cop who begs for a partner to no avail (no one wants it!), thanks to his uncouth antics on the job staking out a local drug kingpin named Lyman (Tighe, "Emergency") who is out to get him off his tail. He manages to eke out a partner in the form of a similarly loose cannon trained German shepherd named Jerry Lee (aka "The Killer"). As a partner, Jerry Lee proves to be a revelation, although his behavior often clashes with Dooley's own slovenly demeanor, particularly in front of Dooley's long-suffering girlfriend, Tracy (Harris, The Pagemaster).
K-9 follows the buddy cop formula, scripted by Steven Siegel (Guilty Hearts) and Scott Myers (Alaska, Trojan War), to a tee, despite its canine second banana, with both parties finding more ways not to get along, only for them to ultimately earn a certain admiration and affection for one another.
Most of the scenes involving Jerry Lee are played for cuteness, though when it comes to action, the dog performs feats no dog could do, including run and jump into the passenger side of a moving big rig and (somehow) close car doors behind him (one of the film's many flubs). Director Rod Daniel (Teen Wolf, Like Father Like Son) manages to keep the tone relatively light, despite a plot that allows for much shooting, murders, kidnapping, and other unsavory tidbits. The snappy, offbeat score by Miles Goodman works well in keeping the frothy mix of gags and violence from becoming too dark and leaden.
K-9's pleasures lie in the animal training by Karl Lewis Miller and Belushi's consummate ability to make smart-ass commentary throughout, and along those lines, it can entertain enough to maintain a certain pleasurable interest, despite the tired plot. As with nearly all buddy cop movies, the main delight is when the odd couple rattle each others cages, rather than get to the main heavy's goat. However, it's too routine to recommend to anyone not looking for an amiable time-waster of an action flick, especially as it is largely forgettable not long after the closing credits begin to roll.Qwipster's rating:
©2012 Vince Leo