Friday, January 10, 2014

Quick Thoughts - Dutch (1991)

11/28/13: Dutch is an underrated holiday classic written by John Hughes, following the typical "I'll be home for the holidays" wacky road movie formula, note for note. Hughes contributed another great entry to the canon a few years earlier with Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and amazingly, still manages to make a completely different film here, even while working with the very same ingredients. I'm not the biggest Hughes fan, but he had an indisputable knack for writing characters who were perfect foils for each other, and though he put them in fun, escapist scenarios which few of us have probably ever actually experienced, they're completely relatable. As written by someone else, Dutch would have turned out as hokey and predictable as it actually is: blue collar Ed O'Neill agrees to drive home his fiance's pretentious, upright son (Ethan Embry) from his prep school... Hijinks ensue, and the two learn a lot from each other. But buried beneath the formulaic surface is a lot of heart and sincerity... And wit. It helps that the gags are actually entertaining, but where Dutch really succeeds is in the development of the relationship that forms, which feels so genuine and real that we push down our instinct to scoff at such predictability and instead root for it, because Dutch reminds us why this premise became formulaic in the first place: it has the potential to be brilliant. ***1/2

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