Hudson Hawk (Yes, Hudson Hawk)
The range of my taste in film covers a wide area.
If my tastes were represented by a country’s land area, it would be Russia. Despite my fiancée’s insistence that I don’t like any film made after 2000 — mainly because I had not watched Superbad until last week — I enjoy many different films. My film collection would suggest as much, which ranges from Oscar winning classics of the 1960s to b-movies of the 1980s, and many more.
One film that holds a place of honor on my shelf is the Bruce Willis vehicle, Hudson Hawk (1991). It is absurd, ridiculous, and preposterous.
And I love every damn frame. I love the film so much, I even referenced it in one of my comic strips.
I have a soft-spot for absurd action-comedies, and Hudson Hawk is more or less my gold standard. It is also on the short list of films I have purchased in two or more formats: first VHS, and then DVD (Ghostbusters, Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness being the others. Star Wars and Indiana Jones will join that list eventually. Gremlins, however, is the reigning champ: VHS, DVD, and Laserdisc—in that order).
Hudson Hawk is a love it or hate it film.
Folks I know who love the film, love it to pieces and quote it often (the film is incredibly quotable: “You took down Captain Bob’s steering wheel?!”, “Reindeer goat cheese pizza?!”, “Hey Mr. Hawk, I got your stamps.”).
But, for those who can’t embrace the absurdity, Hudson Hawk is the worst thing put to celluloid this side of Last Action Hero (the subject of a future article).
Is Hudson Hawk a perfect film? Hardly.
But, it is entertaining and hilarious (keep in mind this comes from a guy who draws comics rife with absurd humor). It is full of gags I love to death. The scene where the Pope is watching Mr. Ed dubbed into Italian gets me every time. Another favorite (and speaking as someone who is half-Italian) is when an Italian guard pours spaghetti, with sauce, out of a Thermos.
Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello, to me, form an impressive comedic duo. I love their snappy dialogue and banter. They have chemistry, and they come across as real pals. If you go into Hudson Hawk expecting a Die Hard, you will be incredibly disappointed (although the same could probably be said of Die Hard 2). Yet, if you approach Hudson Hawk as a poor man’s Ghostbusters or Big Trouble in Little China, it makes much more sense.
Maybe. I don’t make any promises.
If you can find the DVD, give the director commentary by Michael Lehmann a listen. It is as entertaining as it is informative, and I love Lehmann’s refrain of “Did I mention this film did well in Europe?” after some of the gags. He also explains several scenes which were cut from the film, including a sub-plot about Willis getting revenge for the death of his monkey sidekick, Little Eddie (YES).
Hudson Hawk isn’t perfect, and it isn’t for everyone, but for those, like myself, who enjoy absurdity, it is 100 minutes well spent.
And it is way funnier than Die Hard 2.