Why 'Hudson Hawk' is one of the most under-appreciated films of the 90s
Why not begin this blog with an analysis of ‘Hudson Hawk’. I’ve always had an enormous soft spot for this film and every time I rewatch it I find I still enjoy it immensly. How can I rationalise my love for this universally panned film with my supposed knowledge of great cinema? Well, let’s try.
The film bombed in 91 when it came out and a quick perusal of the credits reads like a strange shortlist of action film meets black comedy. Michael Lehman directed, known for films like Airheads. Daniel Waters co-wrote, known for greatness such as Heathers. Joel Silver produced his first foray into comedy after being an action stalwart with Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. Even Bruce Willis had a co-story credit (his only before and since).
But why do I like it? Its pure absurd insanity from start to finish really and more importantly, it knows it’s stupid. When Danny Aiello suddenly appears at the end of the film after seemingly perishing in a car that flew over a cliff in a ball of flames this is the interaction that justifies his presence,
Hudson Hawk: You’re supposed to be all cracked up at the bottom of the hill!
Tommy Five-Tone: Air bags! Can you fucking believe it?
Anna: You’re supposed to be blown up into fiery chunks of flesh!
Tommy Five-Tone: Sprinkler system set up in the back! Can you fucking BELIEVE it?
The narrative moves so fast I really challenge anyone to be bored and some of the one liners are so amazingly absurd and stupid you could argue this film was way ahead of its time. After Andie McDowells character gets drugged she rants: “I feel like a dolphin who’s never tasted melted snow. What does the color blue taste like? Bobo knows? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! I must speak with the dolphins now. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” You don’t hear such awesomely random dialogue in many films kids…
Or how about the supremely ridiculous sequence where Hawk lies on a hospital gurney while being dragged at speeds by an ambulance. He passes a car with a woman throwing a cigarette out of the window, catches it, takes a toke, screws up his face saying “Ewwww, a menthol”. Then he passes a car full of college girls who excitedly ask him, “Are you gonna die mister?”
I could go on and on highlighting favorite moments. For the life of me I cannot understand why this film is considered a bomb. It’s OTT for sure but at its worst its no more embarrassing than Austin Powers. At it’s best it contains some of the most imaginatively stupid scenes ever put in a Hollywood film.
If only more hollywood films were this unpretentiously self-aware then maybe we wouldn’t be stricken with so many faux epics like Transformers and Spiderman.