A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Joe Friday is supposed to be the paragon of the law-abiding, perfectly groomed straight-arrow American cop, and some of this rubs off on the rebellious young Pep Streebek. Still, the arc of Friday's character has him learning to loosen up and bend/break his own rules, with reckless driving, dating, sex, etc. The life of a porno publisher looks rather glamorous and filled with attractive sex-bomb girls, imagine that.
Violence & Scariness
Much shooting in the finale, plus explosions and arson fires. Cars blown up by bombs and crashed in high-speed police chases. Street punks threaten Joe Friday with knives and martial-arts weapons. Hand-to-hand combat, crotch kicks, and characters wrestling a large snake.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A pole dancer in a thong and pasties on her nipples is about as naked as one could get without being fully nude. A suplot involves a softcore-magazine publisher (with vaguely Hugh Hefner attributes). A character is referred to as "the virgin" repeatedly.
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Swearing for comedic effect, mainly from a foulmouthed landlady ("s--t," "asswipe" ) old enough to be a grandmother. Plus "Goddamn" and "balls."
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Products & Purchases
Nods to other movies (including the Nightmare on Elm Street series), salutes to Los Angeles landmarks and attractions, such as the Brown Derby restaurant.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking, including Streebek guzzling wine by the bottle. Both the hero (Friday) and the villain smoke, even though other characters mildly disapprove. Drug humor in the presence of a variety of illicit pills (to which Streebek takes quite a fancy).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are sexual shenanigans here, given a subplot about a millionaire porn merchant and a heroine stated to be a confirmed virgin. Pretty much nude is an exotic dancer wearing only nipple pasties and a thong. A storm of swear words issue from one female character old enough to be a grandmother (that's apparently the joke). Violent acts include bloodless gun violence, car crashes/police chases, and a modified tank as battering ram. A powerful priest with Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson attributes turns out to be a lascivious, devil-worshipping master villain. His outdoor Satanist ritual looks like a big party (with Nazi rally overtones). There is a winking attitude towards drugs, drinking, and smoking. An older Dragnet exists on video -- also co-starring Harry Morgan -- but it's the original straight version, not this popular comedy. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The movie is consistently funny. But what's the point, besides confronting the ultimate unflappable squaresville cop Joe Friday with such not-ready-for-prime-time offenses as strip clubs, pin-up girls, and devil cults? It all comes together thanks to Dan Aykroyd's dead-on impression of Jack Webb's persona. Even within the confines of a comic caricature, Aykroyd creates a surprisingly sympathetic and fleshed-out hero with the staccato-talking, time-frozen 1950s Joe Friday, and in the course of the outsized mayhem Friday learns to loosen up and form a bond with his mismatched boyish partner (team-player Tom Hanks is not only good, he doesn't try to overshadow his co-star's extravagant schtick).
With prominent Saturday Night Live talent involved, there is quite a bit of topical (euphemism for badly-out-of-date) satire, involving the Moral Majority, the movie dud Yes Giorgio, and a closing Aykroyd-Hanks rap-music (!) theme song that's sooooo stuck in the 1980s.
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Our Editors Recommend
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