Barking at the Big Screen: Turner and Hooch

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Actor Tom Hanks attends "A Hologram For The King" World Premiere at the John Zuccotti Theater at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Actor Tom Hanks attends "A Hologram For The King" World Premiere at the John Zuccotti Theater at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images) /
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Today in our “Barking at the Big Screen” series of movie reviews, we look at the 1989 film Turner and Hooch.

Turner and Hooch is a 1989 film directed by Roger Spottiswoode (The 6th Day) and written by Dennis Shryack (Pale Rider),  Michael Blodgett, Daniel Petrie Jr (Beverly Hills Cop) and Jim Cash & Jack Epps Jr (Top Gun).

The buddy cop comedy stars Tom Hanks (Sleepless in Seattle, A League of Their Own, Bridge of Spies), Mare Winningham (St Elmo’s Fire, ER, Swing Vote) and Craig T Nelson (All the Right Moves, Coach, The Incredibles) in the lead roles.

Scott Turner (Hanks) is a creature of habit. He pays the bills on time, always washes the dishes after eating, shines his shoes before making coffee, cleans the entire fridge if there’s a small mess, and flosses his teeth and trims his nose hairs every night.

The type of books he reads before going to sleep are things like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. (Marquez is very hard to understand – I was an English major.)

He’s also really, really, REALLY uptight – always using his seat belt, giving excessive directions for filling incident reports in his job as a Cypress Beach Police Department detective, and carrying a dust buster in his squad car, though he does remember the birthdays of everyone in the office.

Like every day, things are pretty quiet as he helps David Sutton (Reginald VelJohnson of Family Matters) learn the beat before moving to Sacramento. The only things worth mentioning are the recovery of a stolen dinghy belonging to seafood big shot named Walter Boyett (JC Quinn of Days of Thunder) and a noise complaint from an elderly lonesome man named Amos Reed (John McIntire), who owns a massive beer-drinking Bordeaux named Hooch.

As Scott is deathly afraid of dogs in general and Hooch in particular, despite Amos’s assurances that he likes him, these visits can be an ordeal, though he is the only friend Amos has.

$8,000 washes up unexpectedly on the beach later that afternoon.

That night Amos witnesses a murder at the seafood plant next door, the Cypress Beach Packing Company, and Amos is then killed himself. Hooch guards the body all night long.

Police Chief Hyde (Nelson) wants to give the case over to the county sheriff’s department, but Scott and David talk him into letting them handle it. And since Animal Control is planning to shoot the uncooperative Hooch, Scott reluctantly takes charge of the dog.

When Hooch spots a pretty Collie named Camille outside the vet’s office, he drags Scott through the dog door and his condition gets Scott off on the wrong foot with Dr. Emily Carson (WInningham), who is appalled by Hooch’s filthy condition and poor diet. When he explains the situation, things settle down a bit.

The next day at work, Hooch is bored while stuck in the squad car all day (with the windows open), so he chomps down on the driver’s side headrest.

While Turner goes to the grocery store buying dog food, chew toys, flea shampoo, dog biscuits and other dog-care items, Hooch punches a hole through the laundry room door, ransacks the kitchen, drinks all the beer in the fridge, shreds the couch, destroys the stereo and slobbers all over the bed.

Hooch then breaks a window, scared of Scott’s pistol, and returns later with the pretty Collie. So an exasperated Scott drives her back home, and he and Emily have an awkward-but-pleasant spontaneous first date painting a room. Hooch somehow talks his way into sleeping in the bed, so Turner gives him a bath the next morning.

That day at work, Boyett’s daughter is getting married across the street from the police department, and Hooch launches himself outside in pursuit of the wedding photographer, who was the man who murdered Amos.

The ensuing chase for the man, whose name is Zach Gregory, is unsuccessful, but Chief Hyde agrees to a warrant to search the seafood plant.

It’s also unsuccessful, but Turner bonds with Hooch and has another good date with Emily.

Turner and Hooch then go on a stakeout of the seafood plant, and along with David, conduct an illegal search of the premises in the morning, finding evidence of a money laundering scheme.

Turner and Hooch illegally apprehend Gregory that night at the motel where he lives, and afterward raid the seafood plant, where they run into Chief Hyde. Turner figures out that Hyde was working with Boyett and Gregory on the money-laundering scheme, and a gunfight ensues with Boyett getting arrested and Hooch and Hyde both suffering fatal injuries.

Eight to ten months later, Turner has stayed in Cypress Beach after being promoted to Chief and married Emily, while Camille has three well-behaved daughters who look like her and one son who’s a handful who looks like Hooch.