'Hudson Hawk' is funny enough, but it suffers from a muddled plot

On movies

May 29, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

''Hudson Hawk,'' the newest Bruce Willis film, began as a song Willis used to sing. He's responsible for the story. The script came about when he became a big enough star to have scripts written for him.

It's a very expensive movie. You can see that. Most of the money, however, must have gone into location filming. Apparently, not too much went into the script. Maybe the producers should have paid the writers a little more. ''Hudson Hawk'' is a very funny film, but plot, it hasn't got.

If you saw the very recent ''If Looks Could Kill,'' you've already seen what little plot there is in ''Hudson Hawk.'' Don't these people have clearinghouses?

In ''If Looks Could Kill,'' Richard Grieco was an American who found himself in Paris where a madman was trying to gain control of the world by manufacturing gold, a move that would throw the world into economic chaos.

They use that same plot in ''Hudson Hawk,'' but they use a lot more, and none of it is as clear as this. Even this part isn't that clear.

''Hudson Hawk'' is daring in concept. It's all been done before, but it is particularly amusing here. The film, basically, is cartoon, Tom and Jerry mixed with the Three Stooges. Then there is ''The Singing Detective.'' Yes, when Hawk and his friend, Tommy Messina (Danny Aiello), are forced to do one last job as cat burglars, they go into song and dance to ''Swinging on a Star.''

Later, they do ''Side By Side,'' and all this is most entertaining. So are the comedy bits, and there are a lot of them. So is Sandra Bernhard, who sounds as though she were raised in Baltimore and never left. Andie MacDowell also has traces of the Baltimore accent in her speech, but she seems to be working on it. Bernhard has made it her shtick.

James Coburn is the leader of a group of heavies known as The Candy Bars, and David Caruso is a mute who sometimes appears in drag and sometimes simply appears, for no real reason other than to guide Hawk with advice printed on cards.

The movie was done in New York, Budapest, London, Los Angeles and Italy, so the scenery is magnificent. So is the humor, but the film would have been so much more complete, so much more satisfying, if the plot lines were more discernible.

We do know who the bad guys are, and we do know that none of the good guys is going to die, but comedy, no matter how silly, needs some kind of framework.

Willis is completely at home as the cat burglar who has served 10 years and wants to go straight. He is also a good song-and-dance man. Aiello is affable as his good friend. He and Willis, singing for themselves, make nice music together.

Maybe they should have had more of this and less action. The film might have been overly heavy in the song-and-dance department, but better that than no plot.

Richard E. Grant is the young man who wants to control the world, and as long as he (and all the others) are on camera, we know what this film wants to be, a mixture of cartoon, camp and mayhem.

MacDowell is Anna Baragli, an undercover agent who seems to be working for the Vatican. Well, didn't we say the movie has everything?

''Hudson Hawk,'' which begins with an imaginative sequence in which Leonardo Da Vinci sends one of his assistants over the cliff on a hang glider, is a film whose parts are greater than its sum total. It is showing at local theaters.

Hudson Hawk'' ** A cat burglar is forced to do one last job.

CAST: Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard

DIRECTOR: Michael Lehmann

RATING: R (language, violence)

) RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

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