Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Okay, look. First of all, I love the movie. Love it. I've seen it enough that it's basically comfort viewing for me. And I realize that it's got some flaws, but I think it gets a bad rap.
The important thing to realize is that when it came out, people were expecting it to be just like Bruce Willis's previous movie, which was Die Hard 2. So they showed up for an action movie and got a goofy comedy that's essentially a parody of James Bond-style movies. And I think that threw people. If you listen to the director's commentary on the DVD, he sounds really defensive the whole time, complaining that people just didn't "get" his movie. He even cast James Coburn, the star of the "Flint" movies!
Okay, having said that, I admit that there are things in that movie that, um, aren't for everyone. Not everyone digs Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as absurdly over-the-top villains. I love 'em, myself. Even Grant hates that performance. Judging by With Nails, his movie diaries, he preferred his work in Spice World.
Now, the book. Back before VCRs, novelizations were the only way to relive a movie at home. And before DVDs, they were the only way to see deleted scenes. It turns out that Hudson Hawk has an entire subplot that got cut out of the final product. It's about a monkey. It's also more self-indulgent, silly, and pointless than the rest of the movie, which is really saying something. It's good that it's not in the movie anymore, but it's neat to read what was supposed to happen.
The real advantage of a novelization of a flawed movie is that you can find out what was supposed to be happening. Apparently, Danny Aiello's character was named "Tommy Five-Tone" because when he beats someone up, they grunt five times in ascending tones. That actually happens in the movie, when Tommy pummels Darwin Mayflower, but the joke doesn't come across at all. Luckily for me, the book appears to have been written by someone who was very concerned about getting the jokes across, so it's explained at excruciating detail. Hooray!