Happy Friday, everyone! I decided this week we’re going to make a bit of a departure from the usual material here, so today we’re going to discuss a movie: “Hudson Hawk,” the 1990s ensemble action/comedy film starring Bruce Willis.
I’m not going to even attempt to sell you on the strengths of this movie, because there are none. In fact, held against the scope of Bruce Willis’s works, “Hudson Hawk” might be the worst Bruce Willis film ever. Every great artist has an occasional flub, and in the case of “Hudson Hawk,” the flub is so spectacular you absolutely must take a couple of hours out of this weekend and view it.
Willis stars as Eddie “Hudson” Hawk, a cat-burglar freshly released on parole. It doesn’t take long in the movie before we meet Eddie’s sleazy parole officer who threatens to send “the Hawk” back behind bars if he refuses to do just one more job for the corrupt cop. Our protagonist has disavowed his prior lifestyle in favor of running a bar with his friend, Tommy Five-Tone (played by Danny Aiello).
As luck would have it, Tommy Five-Tone has an “in” on the very job the sleazy parole officer wanted Eddie to take, courtesy of the mobbed up Antony and Cesar Mario. Because Eddie really wants to retire, he concocts a way to nab Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Sforza,” a statuette of a horse cast by the legendary artist.
Eddie and Tommy, we soon learn, are quite the savvy duo of thieves. Eddie’s possessed of a unique ability to MacGyver his way around just about any theft prevention system. Tommy shares Eddie’s love of music from the 40s to 60s, and they plan heists around the time lengths of certain songs they both know by heart.
In case I haven’t spelled it out clearly for you at this point: you’re going to watch several musical numbers in this film. The first is the Sforza heist set to Frank Sinatra’s “Swinging on a Star.” BEHOLD!
Was that not just the most delightful and charming robbery you’ve ever witnessed? It’s almost like adding Sinatra to the larceny just makes the whole scene infinitely more pleasing.
Anyway, because this is a movie, Eddie returns the following evening to the museum from whence he pilfered the Sforza only to discover a forgery is in its place, and a representative from the Vatican named Anna Baragli (Andie MacDowell) strangely tells the auction audience the fake is the legitimate item.
Now the film’s Big Bad makes their first appearance in the form of Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Richard Grant and Sandra Bernhard), who engage in a showy display of their garish riches before something disrupts the auction and Eddie winds up in Rome.
Yes, I realize that’s a hell of a statement to make if you haven’t seen the film. It’s one more reason why you need to rent the movie and get with the program. Come on, people.
Now that we’re in Rome, the Mayflowers present Eddie with a new challenge. Apparently the Sforza held one piece of a crystal Da Vinci created that when combined with sunlight and the right machine components could turn lead into gold. The Mayflowers want to recreate Da Vinci’s Philosopher’s Stone and use it to pad their already substantial wealth. Our hero has a choice: either get paid handsomely by the Mayflowers to steal what they want or suffer adverse health effects.
And so the next big act of the film begins, as the Hudson Hawk sets out to steal in all manner of settings. Sometimes he’s helped and hindered by George Kaplan (James Coburn), who apparently is ex-CIA, and his henchmen, the Candy Bars. Yes, there are goons in this flick code-named “Kit-Kat,” “Butterfingers,” and “Almond Joy.” Watching Lorraine Toussaint deliver lines in this film is so painful I honestly hope she’s redeemed this blight on her acting career after this movie escaped into the wild.
One of the big running gags in the film is Eddie’s inability to get the one thing he wants more than anything else: a decent cappuccino. Here’s something fun to try when you view the film: drink every time Bruce Willis is denied his fancy Italian coffee. You’ll have quite the healthy buzz by the time you get to the second big musical number in the film, which includes rocket propelled grenades. I’m putting it below because fuck it, it’s a joy to watch, and we can all use good music and a smile right now.
A Google search tells you 85% of those who saw Hudson Hawk actually liked the film. Commercially it was a flop. It grossed a paltry $17 million in the states theatrically and earned three Razzie Awards, including “Worst Picture.” As of this writing Hudson Hawk is a critical pan with a 31% Rotten Tomatoes score and a 5.8 out of 10 on iMDb.
It was, if memory serves, about six bucks to buy this flick on Amazon Prime. I assure you it’s money well spent just so you can treat Hudson Hawk like one should “Road House” or an Egg McMuffin. This is a film you watch on rare occasions when the mood strikes, and enjoy it for the guilty pleasure it is.
Get yourself a cappuccino, sit back, and enjoy Hudson Hawk this weekend. And treat the film like you would a show at Abingdon, Virginia’s legendary Barter Theatre: if you like it, tell a friend about it. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut.