When Hudson Hawk came out in 1991, I was mostly interested in whether or not hoverboards were real, and staying away from bullies, so I didn’t pay much attention to INDUSTRY NEWS, and yet it somehow managed to seep into even my distracted consciousness that that this was an epically horrible movie. To be fair, up until this weekend, I hadn’t seen it and I didn’t know anyone who’d seen it. So while I was definitely anticipating something awful, I was also fully aware that I could be operating under false information. Anyone who’s been to high school knows that reputations can far outlast the original event. And thus it is with a clear mind, and a guilt-free conscience, having watched the movie in its entirety, that I can say “Oh wow, no, Hudson Hawk is really horrible, you guys.” Seriously, someone should have left it in a plastic bag in the girl’s bathroom during prom.
Hudson Hawk is the nickname of a famous cat burglar, Eddie Hawkins, who’s just gotten out of prison after a 10-year-stint and is already being asked to perform another job, when all he wants is a cappuccino. Wait, no, let’s start earlier. Leonardo Da Vinci is a famous artist and inventor from the Italian Renaissance who has been asked to develop a machine that will transform lead into bronze, but Da Vinci does one better, creating a machine that transforms lead into gold, and also a paper-mache hang-glider. FAST FORWARD to1991, and Bruce Willis is talked into stealing a horse for from Sotheby’s by his best friend, Danny Aiello, to pay off a mob debt. But it turns out the horse contained a piece of Da Vinci’s gold machine, and everyone’s after it. Then Hudson Hawk is kidnapped by the C.I.A. and sent to Rome in a shipping crate where he meets Sandra Bernhard and Richard E. Grant who are billionaires conspiring to get all the crystals from Da Vinci’s gold machine and ruin the global economy. By devaluing gold. Meanwhile, Andie McDowell plays a nun from the Vatican who falls in love with Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello flies off a cliff in a car that explodes but doesn’t die because “air bags, ain’t that somethin’,” and they save the day and paraglide in Leonardo Da Vinci’s hang-glider into a village and get cappuccinos, The End, are you fucking kidding me?
If that synopsis is any indication, one of the movie’s main problems is that it’s insanely complicated for how stupid it is. There are multiple double-crosses and hidden allegiances as if this was the Bourne Identity instead of a slapstick action comedy starring and co-written by Bruce Willis. Not to mention the elaborately layered anti-business and anti-church messages, like some kind of precursor to the Da Vinci Code (which is admittedly kind of stupid too (understatement)) but without all those annoying attempts at making sense. But perhaps one of the most painful things is the movie’s unrelenting quirkiness. Take one of its main defining features, which is the fun little fact that Hudson Hawk times all his jobs by singing showtunes.
Ugh. I wish I was a professional cat burglar so I could steal my hour and a half back, RIGHT GUYS? Another example of this is the cappuccino theme. Because it’s 1991, it’s hilarious for a tough guy to like cappuccinos. Real men drink lattes. Anyway, no matter how hard he tries, Hudson Hawk can’t get a cappuccino. It’s either shot out his hand:
Or the cartoonish espresso machine, which is supposedly sitting at the end of a bar that’s popular with Wall Street types, explodes.
As with any good romantic comedy, Hudson finally is reunited with his star-crossed lover, cappuccino, at the end of the movie. The problem is that WHO FUCKING CARES?
Now, it’s not really possible to criticize Hudson Hawk without criticizing the entirety of the action comedy genre. Fair enough. So let’s. I love action movies and I love comedies, but the problem with action comedies is that they’re neither that action-packed nor that funny. Anything that works too hard at covering the spread is bound to be a mediocre disappointment. And Hudson Hawk might be the medicorest of all the disappointments. Take this scene in which Hudson Hawk steals Da Vinci’s notebook from the Vatican, a joke about the Pope’s cable reception is made, and then a hilarious scene involving Xenophobia and ketchup takes place:
Boo. Also, no offense Early ’90s, but Andie MacDowell was your girlfriend.
To be fair, there were a couple of winners in this movie. Sandra Berhnard basically plays herself in the movie, so you can’t hate on that. Also David Caruso, aka Horatio Cane came out on top.
Mainly because he didn’t have any speaking lines.
Hudson Hawk is definitely one of the worst movies ever made, not only because it’s so bad, but because it stands as a testament to all the ways that movies can go wrong. It’s sloppy and nonsensical and some kind of weird Bruce Willis passion project. It combines false history with bad action, dull comedy, slapstick sound effects, campy over-acting, and showtunes. If this were a drink at a party it would be called Graveyard, and it would kill you. Whoops, I didn’t even mention my main problem with the movie: