Film: Turner & Hooch (1989) Rated: PG-13 Directed by: Roger Spootiswoode Written by: Jack Epps, Jr. Jim Cash Dennis Shryack Daniel Petrie, Jr. Michael Blodgett Starring: Tom Hanks as Scott Turner Mare Winningham as Dr. Carson Craig T. Nelson as Chief Hyde Reginald VelJohnson as Det. Sutton
By E Dagger from CruJonesSociety
Pre-screening memories: As a kid, Turner & Hooch looked funny because the trailer told me it was supposed to be funny. The truth was, I didn’t grow up with a dog and was sort of afraid of them, so this movie where Tom Hanks’s life gets turned upside down by an unruly canine sure didn’t seem like much fun to me.
When I watched it, I sympathized with Tom Hanks’s Scott Turner and it took me a long time to warm up to Hooch because he was just such a disobedient force of nature. Our house was calm, clean, and organized just like Scott’s, and watching Hooch ransack it gave little 8 year-old me the closest thing to a panic attack a little kid can have.
I was pleased that during the stakeout Scott asks Hooch if he’s ever watched “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” because my dad and I used to watch that ridiculous show together. I also remember turning to look at my mom when (SPOILER ALERT) Hooch dies and seeing her cry her eyes out. I’ll admit to feeling sad because the story does a good job of ingratiating Hooch to even the most tenacious holdouts (i.e. me), but since I’d never had a pet die, I didn’t really get it.
Post-screening memories: Damn this movie, and damn getting older. Like my mom 20 years before, when Hooch sacrifices his life for Scott, I joined the long line of people who shed tears at the end of this movie. In my life I’ve lost two parrots and a dog, which were, until last year, the only ones close to me I’d ever lost. Thankfully that’s just the end, and the sadness quickly washes away as we see Scott giving the same spiel to a new rowdy pooch who we find in his closet with one of Scott’s socks in his mouth.
What struck me most about watching this movie again was just how much I missed light, comedic Tom Hanks. I nearly doubled over myself when Tom Hanks is out on his patio wearing his underwear yelling at Hooch to shut up at 2:30 in the morning. Like the famous “There’s no crying in baseball” scene from A League of their Own, Tom Hanks shouting “Eat the buns!” at Hooch reminds you that few do comedically exasperated hollering as well as Tom Hanks. I could watch him slowly unravel and erupt with volcanic hilarity all night and all day, and Turner & Hooch gives you a nice fix if that’s your thing. It’s definitely mine.
ESPN writer Bill Simmons calls this Tom Hanks’s finest performance since he has to play off a dog for nearly the entire movie, and pulls it off brilliantly. While I wouldn’t quite go that far, I would say that I enjoyed this a hell of a lot more now that I’d had a couple of dogs (and now two cats). The movie is clearly written by animal lovers, but they don’t neglect to include all the ways they can be a pain in the ass. As our guest alludes to in our conversation, no one remembers the convoluted embezzlement scheme that serves as the plot’s basic clothesline, but everyone remembers Turner & Hooch.
Download Natsukashi’s ‘Turner & Hooch’ podcast right here.
or you can take it for a walk right on our site:
Our featured guest: Dr. Jack Epps Jr.
The award-winning writer teamed with his screenwriting professor from Michigan State, Jim Cash, with whom he collaborated on some of his most notable films.
Dr. Epps in now a professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts and is currently penning storylines for a few upcoming videogames.
Listen to the good doctor share his thoughts about working with animals, the scadalous tales of Hollywood bad-boy Tom Hanks (kidding, folks. He’s squeaky clean), and just how many Hooches it took to make a movie.
Thanks, Jack. You deserve a slobbery smooch for hanging with us.
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