Hot Pursuit (1987)

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Hot Pursuit (1987) Movie Poster Image
Cheesy '80s teen comedy has profanity, sex.
  • PG-13
  • 1997
  • 93 minutes

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Kids say

age 15+
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Persistence and determination pay off; true love triumphs; mettle trumps class. Some stereotypes about islanders and island life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are fairly simple and motivated by pleasure or self-interest, but Dan commits to studying and homework over going out to party; he endures incredible hardship and danger to meet up with his girlfriend; Lori's father changes his mind about Dan when he proves how devoted he is to Lori.


A shoot-out with machine guns and explosives. A captain is killed and shown dead in a closet in a few scenes. A character throws a knife at another character, with bloodshed. A gun is fired. A family is held at gunpoint and kidnapped for ransom. A man kicks a door in another man's face and pulls a gun on him. Some guns are pulled but not fired. A man tells a story of coldcocking his wife with a frying pan. Character tells a story of a woman raped by Haitians, still at large. A boat engine explodes. Two cars sail off a cliff.


Man in underwear; man and woman kissing a few times; woman jokes that she's sleeping with another man but he might be a "fag"; woman tells a boyfriend they will soon be making love under the stars; half-naked posters of women in bikinis or partially dressed in college guy's room; shots of women in bikinis at beach; man tells a woman he knows she's "hot for" him; man references all the positions a woman can get into for sex; a woman says she's so loud during sex it wakes the neighbors; a woman comes on to a man, who calls her a "whore."


Frequent profanity: "s--t," "fag," "goddamn," "pissed," "hell," "d--k," "ass," "son of a bitch," "whore."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Group is transporting a large amount of marijuana; man asks another man if he has any "ludes or blow"; men smoke marijuana; underage man gets drunk on rum, stumbles around; man drinks straight out of a bottle of liquor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hot Pursuit is a 1980s teen comedy about a college kid (John Cusack) trying to join his girlfriend and her family on vacation in the Caribbean. It has quite a bit of sexual innuendo (referencing sexual positions, talking about sex), violence including gun use, frequent profanity (including "s--t"), and some underage drinking, marijuana smoking, and illegal drug running. Although it has very little in the way of redeemable messages, it's tame compared to modern comedies, which have much more intense violence, profanity, and sex.

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What's the story?

When scholarship-funded prep-schooler Dan (John Cusack) fails his chemistry test, it means he'll have to stay behind for a makeup and miss the Caribbean cruise his affluent girlfriend Lori (Wendy Gazelle) and her family have invited him along for. But when his professor grants him a passing grade at the last minute, he's off to the airport to catch up. Instead, he misses her at every step along the way, getting mixed up, derailed, and in big trouble with unsavory characters in varying degrees of illegality, while cabin boy Chris (Ben Stiller) moves in on Lori. 

Is it any good?

HOT PURSUIT is an early Cusack film and a solid representative of the typical '80s teen adventure comedy: a little crassness, a lot of mild profanity, and some tame violence. All in the interest of pairing a guy up with the summertime babe of his dreams. There's nothing particularly special about this installment in the genre other than early proof of Cusack's future perfect boyfriend status in movies such as Say Anything.

Teens with an interest in the genre will find all the hallmarks of the era, plus a treasure trove of politically incorrect and/or stereotypical depictions of islanders. It doesn't dig anywhere near deeply enough into the class differences that might make for more interesting fodder in a teen romance, but there's a potentially novel appeal in seeing a young Cusack (and equally fresh-faced Ben Stiller, in his debut) in an uptempo beach setting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hot Pursuit's portrayal of island natives. How does this film stereotype island life and island residents?

  • Does the movie ever address class conflict? What are the classes of the various characters, and what problems do their classes create for them in the movie?

  • How has innuendo in teenage movies changed since the era of Hot Pursuit? Is it more extreme or less? How so? Why do you think it's changed?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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