Friday, June 4, 2010

John Candy is 'Armed and Dangerous'

Armed and Dangerous (1986)
Starring: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Meg Ryan, Robert Loggia and Kenneth McMillan
Director: Mark L. Lester
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A disgraced cop (Candy) and an incompetent lawyer (Levy) become friends after they take jobs as security guards to make ends meet. However, they are soon forced to rely upon each other for survival when they get caught up in the illegal dealings of the security company's owner (Loggia).

"Armed and Dangerous" is a fast-paced action comedy that careens from joke to joke, from screwball set-pieces to car chases with wild abandon. It features a fun collection of cartoony characters played by a cast that's mostly at the top of their game, but the film swerves so rapidly and severely through comedic styles that it gets in its own way and times, giving an impression that the writers and director didn't quite know what kind of movie they wanted to make. In some cases, it even feels like they didn't quite know what they wanted certain charaters to be.

The most obvious example of inconsistencies with the film's characters is in Maggie Cavanaugh, another employee of the security company and the manager's daugther, portrayed by Meg Ryan. In the earliest scenes she's in, she comes across either as ditzy or drunk, but later she apears quite intelligent (and there's no indication that the character hits the sauce to excess). She makes references to a bad marriage, but nothing ever comes of this in the film, nor is there ever any indication how she can afford the very large, very fancy house she lives in. All in all, the character is badly focused and developed, and, while it's most obivous with this character, the same is true of John Candy's Frank Dooley (who is alternatively very smart and very stupid, or very industrious or very lazy).

These lapses in good writing and firm direction detract from the overall cohesion of the film and lead to it being a good comedy as opposed to a great one. With just a little more effort on the part of the writers and the director, this could have been a classic, becauase John Candy and Eugene Levy are as good in this film as they've ever been.


  1. Here I come over to thank you for posting a banner and now I have the image of John Candy in drag burned into my eyes.

    But thanks for posting the banner anyway. And bravo on making me curious to see the movie knowing as I do that it contains that image.

  2. I'm not sure if I should thank you, or apologize. :)