He's My Best Friend
'Turner and Hooch,' the series and the movie that inspired it
Now Streaming: Who could resist a big slobbery dog who just wants to love you? Disney's new streaming series, Turner and Hooch, feels very much like a stop-gap measure that is ideal for all the streaming series that have been flooding the market of late, trading on the vaguely nostalgic memories of those in the 'adult guardian' age-group, and updating things to the present day.
In this case, creator Matt Nix, who created the very enjoyable Burn Notice, places his hero, Scott Turner (Josh Peck) in the San Francisco Police Department as an ambitious rookie detective who desperately wants to do good. Scott inherits his father's slobbering St. Bernard, who quickly demonstrates his nose for solving crime, resulting in Scott being assigned as a K-9 officer.
The series ticks numerous boxes as a Disney family series, perhaps suitable for broadcast or basic cable. The premise is familiar, the characters are likable, and the possible dangers are minimal. I've watched the first three episodes so far, which all float by easily with character definitions that reflect the times: Turner is teamed with a veteran, a woman of color who is pregnant; her former partner is also a person of color; and Erica Mouniere (Vanessa Lengies), the woman who trains all the police dogs and instantly becomes besotted with the clueless Turner, is another person of color.
That makes it all quite wonderful, and sets up a very pleasant environment in which a variety of stories can be told. The show excels at showcasing characters who are just a touch out of the ordinary, with further possibilities waiting in the wings. It's on my weekly watch-list. [Disney Plus]
Awesome 80s: Watching the series made me curious about the movie, which I thought I saw back in the day. Not so fast, faulty memory! As it happens -- and of course it happens, because it's Disney -- the movie is also on Disney Plus, so I started watching it this past Saturday afternoon and found it to be an entertaining picture, for what it is.
Released in July 1989, Turner and Hooch stars Tom Hanks, riding the wave of leading roles that followed in the wake of his big success in Splash (1984). The films reinforced his 'likable leading man' status as an amiable, friendly, wholesome, funny guy, shortly before he began to manifest his more dramatic instincts.
Sandwiched between Joe Dante's manic, superior The 'Burbs and John Patrick Shanley's lovely, wistful Joe Versus the Volcano, it must be acknowledged that Turner and Hooch is a lesser film, keying in on easier targets for its comedy and featuring a surfeit of slow-motion footage of the ever-slobbering dog. (Really, I was surprised at how much slow-motion dog slobber is in the film, which runs just 97 minutes in total.)
It's also easy to discern why Tom Hanks wanted to try his hand at a broader range of projects; Turner and Hooch is easy, disposable family entertainment that's easy to ridicule for its over-reliance on slow-motion, slobbering-dog footage. With an abundance of charm, though, Hanks makes it all very pleasant and rewarding under the direction of Roger Spottiswoode, a journeyman director with a talent for making movies that move in an engaging manner.
Beyond the dog antics, there is also the pleasure of seeing Mare Winningham as a vet -- she displays an easy camaraderie with Hanks -- alongside Disney veteran actor John McIntire as a crusy old seaman, Reginald VelJohnson as Hanks' replacement trainee, Scott Paulin as a patented bad guy, and Craig T. Nelson as a suspiciously easy-going police commander.
Watching the movie made me appreciate the changes that Matt Nix made for the series, which seeks to build upon what the movie did more than 30 years ago. And the movie remains enjoyable to watch; Tom Hanks' charm is timeless. [Disney Plus]
This week's two major theatrical releases are a sequel to a highly-regarded thriller for adults (Don't Breathe 2) and a biopic about an iconic singer (Respect), the latter of which I just saw; expect a review to appear at ScreenAnarchy.com sometime soon, or as soon as I get to sleep.