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Armed and Dangerous
1987 - PG-13 - Mins.
Director: Mark L. Lester
Producer: Brian Grazer
Written By: Harold Ramis, Brian Grazer & James Keach
Starring: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Meg Ryan, Robert Loggia, Kenneth McMillan
Review by: John Ulmer
   
Well, here’s another cop-buddy comedy from the eighties with a weird sense of humor: “Armed and Dangerous.” It features old SCTV Canadian buddies John Candy and Eugene Levy in one of their most forgettable roles.

John Candy plays Frank Dooley, a policeman who, one day, finds some corrupt cops stealing some TVs. Unfortunately for Dooley, the tables are turned when he confronts them and gets the blame, causing him to lose his badge and suffer.

Eugene Levy plays Norman Kane: a bumbling, inept lawyer who we feel got his job because he either had extremely rich parents, or just made some fake certificates to prove he is a lawyer. One day while defending a client, Norman realizes that he is about to lose the case. The man he represents is a psycho, who will almost surely kill him after he gets out of jail. So, Norman makes a deal with the court judge; the judge hates Norman, so he tells him that he will put the psycho behind bars forever if Norman quits his job, because he is a “Disgrace to lawyers.” And that’s exactly what Norman does. He quits his job.

So now both men decide to enter the “Watchdog Security” program, where they meet each other for the first time, as well as the daughter of Watchdog president, Maggie Cavanaugh (Meg Ryan). Candy and Levy are later assigned night watch at an old factory, and unfortunately for the two men, they have no idea that something more than meets the eye is going on; if they wish to keep their job, they must discover the truth and reveal it.

John Candy is great as Frank Dooley. I thought his character would be the bumbling one, but in fact, Dooley is smart, and Levy’s character Norman is the stupid one. Dooley’s motivation behind it all is that he wants his respect as an officer back; he took the blame once, and he wants to get his badge back.

Eugene Levy is endearingly dumb as Norman, a guy we all find a place for in our hearts. He obviously has a crush on Ryan’s character, but is not as persistent or cocky as Dooley is; he just can’t muster up enough guts to ask her out. However, he is not completely stupid. He isn’t the kind of character that talks with a lisp and has crossed eyes. He is just…Eugene Levy.

Despite the two comedians’ great performances, however, the film is simply average. The gags become old after a while, and the ending is quite ridiculous and not even fun. Candy and Levy try their best at delivering laughs, but fail miserably, mainly because the script is so awful and the direction wonders around aimlessly searching for the right direction.

The beginning/first half of the film is, actually, quite funny, but eventually, after the men join Watchdog Security, the film suffers from lack of dialogue and lack of direction; director Mark L. Lester must have lost the film’s script during filming, because I find it hard to believe anything so average and basic could be coughed up by co-writer Harold Ramis.

There are some laugh-out-loud sequences in “Armed and Dangerous,” but only a few in the beginning. The film just withers away into a laugh-free zone after the first act, and the ending is just plain typical of an eighties cop-buddy film: high speed chases, stunts, and explosions, topped off by a corny, stereotypical ending that has the audience cowering in their seats.

No matter how much I love John Candy as an actor, I simply can’t muster up enough to recommend this film. The film’s main problem is its lack of intelligence, humor, and wit, as well as containing some boring and typical dialogue expected from a film like “Police Academy,” not a film with John Candy and Eugene Levy.

It is quite a tragic comedy, and is the exact definition of “average.” I’ve seen much worse, but nevertheless, average is average. Perhaps you should see it only for a glimpse of Meg Ryan’s early career, but that’s pushing it.

My summary: “Armed and Dangerous” is “Harming and Ridiculous.”
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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