Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cops and Robbersons

Cops and Robbersons; Comedy, USA, 1994; D: Michael Ritchie, S: Chevy Chase, Jack Palance, Dianne Wiest, David Barry Gray, Jason James Richter, Fay Masterson, Robert Davi, Miko Hughes

Norman Robberson is an average family man obsessed with police and crime TV shows who gets pleasantly surprised when Lieutenant Jake Stone informs him that his new neighbor, Osborn, is a wanted criminal, and that the police wants to use his home in order to organize a stakeout. Norman accepts and settles Jake and his partner Tony in his home, much to the dismay of his wife Helen. Still, their three kids quickly get very fond of Jake, while Osborn starts suspecting he is observed. When the stakeout gets discovered, Osborn and his associate take the Robbersons as hostages, but Jake and Norman manage to beat and arrest them.

"Cops and Robbersons" is a forgotten, ordinary, but surprisingly very decent and correct family comedy that neatly displays the interesting situation of a tough cop who unfolds a stakeout in the home of a family man who wants to be like him, and his kids also respect the cool stranger more than the father. The only screenplay from writer Bernie Sommers is rather thin, but it's variation of Badham's similar comedy "Stakeout" has virtually no plot holes or big mistakes, and despite a lousy start and an even more lousy finale, it works in a solid manner, while Michael Ritchie's direction is non-existent and can't even be compared with skills from many other directors, yet he crafts the film in a decent way. Chevy Chase is refreshingly sustained as Norman, the father obsessed with police shows who goes so far to even harshly warn one critic and sport fan that "old baseball games have no reruns on TV, while every second somewhere in the world one "Kojak" episode is broadcasted", but many potentials of his unusual caprice have been left underused, while definitely the main highlight of the film is Jack Palance's performance as the tough cop Jake, one so good that he should have won the Oscar for this film and not for the overhyped "City Slickers", especially in the hilarious sequence where the observed criminal Osborn gets suspicious and invites himself into Norman's home and meets Jake, who introduces himself as his brother and tells him Norman was just released from a mental asylum: "Did you notice his scars on the head?" - "No..." - "Oh, his hair must be growing back again." - "But he goes to work every day!" - "Work? Work? He enters his car, sits on somewhere on a bench and drools for 8 hours".


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