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Dreyfuss & Estevez : A Pair of Stakeouts

In 1987 director John Badham unleashed this winning buddy/buddy cop film that teamed an unlikely pair of actors who for me offered up genuine screen chemistry. Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez take center stage in this comedy/romantic/ action thriller that joins all three genres successfully in what proved to be a box office hit that did indeed get me to pay admission to a local downtown theater. The timing didn’t hurt the film’s popularity either thanks to the exploding home video market giving the film an extra set of legs.

I had pretty much forgotten about the film by the time a rather unnecessary sequel turned up six years later. In the intervening years I had nestled back into my “I don’t really care much for Richard Dreyfuss” state of mind. I say this knowing full well he’s in one of my two all time favorite films. The one with the shark, not the one with some close encounters. This time I didn’t run out to the theater to see the latest stakeout but did catch it on home video. Don’t recall thinking much of it but I’ve been told I’m softening up in my old age. Yup, liked it this time even if Badham borrows much of what he found so successful in the first stakeout.

Stakeout   (1987)

Like most any action movie, this one follows the cliche of giving us what we paid for beginning with ……… an action sequence. It features our two leading actors chasing down a suspect that sees some comedy tossed in when the boys wind up in a fish market. Dreyfuss will find himself in a huge vat of dead fish exchanging punches with his mark. From there it’s into a garbage truck before his younger partner sporting the “pornstache” saves him from further peril. Neither can save themselves from embarrassment down at their Seattle precinct though with Dreyfuss smelling quite strongly and the pair having their suspect in handcuffs shot down by a bystander after having made the arrest.

Time to move towards outright comedy and romance. The boys are put on a night shift stakeout while Forest Whitaker and Dan Lauria take the day time work. The job? Watching sexy Madeleine Stowe and monitoring her apartment and it’s incoming phone calls or visitors. She’s an ex-girlfriend of escaped killer and all around psycho Adrian Quinn who just might try to make contact with her.

Before Quinn can surface it’s Dreyuss who will make contact when he shows up at her doorstep as a friendly phone repairman. He’s captivated by her and she isn’t exactly putting up stop signs. Dreyfuss the cop resurfaces and he makes a hasty exit. Things are bound to get out of hand however when he innocently bumps into her while stocking up on snack foods for Emilio and himself and  she’s stranded and in need of a ride. Now the flirting is set to begin. Besides the laughs coming from our unprofessional romance, a good deal of the comedy comes from the pranks exchanged between the stakeout shifts as they continue to one up each other. Forest Whitaker was quickly becoming a recognizable actor at this time. He’d just appeared in Platoon and a memorable scene opposite Paul Newman in The Color of Money. Following this comedy he’d turn up with Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam.

There’s plenty of situational comedy here with Dreyfuss falling in love while Emilio is often watching the pair through his own binoculars knowing full well this isn’t the way a stakeout is supposed to go down. Dreyfuss has become a school boy all over again. Yes ladies this film does nothing to dispel the rumor that men can indeed remain immature years into adulthood. By the time Dreyfuss spends the night and awakens the next morning he’ll quickly realize he’s now under surveillance from the day shift. Funny to say the least as he makes his getaway from Whitaker and Lauria in a shawl and pink hat.

Don’t forget about Aidan Quinn. Badham’s film will indeed turn back to an action thriller. Can the pair of stakeout artists save Miss Stowe from nasty Quinn and will Dreyfuss admit his true identity and still hang on to her heart? Well she is in the sequel so you figure it out.

This proved to be a fun revisit. I’d easily recommend it to one and all.

Another Stakeout   (1993)

In a very similar opening to the previous feature, the boys are out of the gate in another action sequence put forth by returning director John Badham. It’s all going to be a rather fast moving plot when Cathy Moriarty is wanted dead by the local mob to silence any testimony she may be willing to give to a grand jury. When an attempt on her life fails, she disappears prompting newcomer Rosie O’Donnell to recruit stakeout specialists Richard and Emilio to begin police surveillance on Cathy’s close friends and fellow mobsters Dennis Farina and Marcia Strassman.

The catch is the trio are to go in as a family renting a cottage next to Farina. The boys are not impressed. Not only is Rosie bringing her dog Archie but Dreyfuss is slated to be her hubby and Emilio their son. He’ll even have to shave off that “pornstache” which leads to a hysterical exchange when he meets Farina face to face who often wore one in his film appearances.

O’Donnell is the cause of much grief for the boys leading the trio to finding themselves involved directly with their neighbors when they’re supposed to be strictly spying on them awaiting the emergence of the Raging Bull beauty. Rosie and Richard are quickly at each other’s throats while they’re “son” is seemingly distraught over his parents bickering. The digs never cease between the two partners who continue their screen chemistry in this follow up that I’ll admit to liking far more the second time around.

Not really a Rosie fan but I’ve always been a fan of Farina’s work. Anyone remember a short lived TV series he did called Buddy Faro? Worth a look if you can find it. Comedy rules more than action this time and did I mention Madeleine Stowe was in this one? Her on going love affair with Dreyfuss really is the heart of both films. They do make a good pair on camera allowing Dreyfuss the chance to successfully share the screen with two co-workers. Meaning Stowe and Estevez. Rosie? If you say so.

This one is best viewed following the first film in quick succession so you can pick up some of the laughs associated with the earlier script.

Best laugh in either film? It’s when Dreyfuss and Estevez test the other’s movie knowledge with film quotes. It’s at this point Estevez offers up the skill testing quote……….

“This was no boating accident!”

Dreyfuss, ‘No idea.”

Estevez, “Man you suck at this.”

According to the IMDB trivia section on the first film, that exchange really happened on set prompting director Badham to incorporate it into the film. If you don’t “get it” I can’t help you.

7 Comments »

  1. Man I loved this film when it came out, what a great buddy movie and truly requires a rewatch. Do remember liking the second stab but it didn’t stick in my head as much, strangely the thing I remember most was what i didn’t like so much, Rosey! Go figure!!. Still a great pairing and Madeleine is always sweet. Haha I don’t recall the boat quote but what a nice fishy easter egg. Superb review buddy.

  2. I remember liking the first one quite a bit, and the second one not so much at all. OK, it’s been a long time and I’m mostly going by lingering impressions rather than anything concrete, but the sequel seemed a little lacking or just not as much fun. I wouldn’t mind revisiting them again though, especially the first one.

    • Your thoughts pretty much identical to mine. First one I remember liking but as I say, I’m getting soft in my old age so even though the second not as good, I’m less harsh on it now as I was back then.

  3. I’ve never bothered to even read the descriptions of these films because I thought they would Not Interest me in the least. Besides, I feel the hot and cold about Richard Dreyfuss, so there was that. But now that I’ve read your enthusiastic review, I feel like I’m missing out! I’ll see if our library has these titles. Thanks!

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