Directed by Peter Faiman. Starring Ed O'Neill, Ethan (Randall) Embrey, Jobeth Williams. (1991, PG-13, 107 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 19, 1991
If the words “A John Hughes Film” fill you with tingly anticipation, if you were one of the millions of people who thought Home Alone was the most hilariously touching motion picture you'd ever seen, or even if you're just waiting (like me) for Hollywood's hottest “family comedy” director/writer to pull off something as good as his first couple of films, feel free to skip on to some other review. There's no sense wasting your time here, obviously, because Dutch is simply a tired, predictable retread of plot snippets and hollow characters from previous Hughes productions. Big surprise there, huh? Anyone who's seen more than one of the last half-dozen HughesFilms already knows the salient points of this new film's plot; you needn't worry about losing face during after-dinner-party critiques of Dutch, because -- Hey! -- you've seen it all before. Hughes' scripts may be eternally crippled, but his casting is often much better, and Dutch is no exception. O'Neill is a genuinely talented actor, and his biting portrayal of this All-American Joe named Dutch belies many of the limp lines he's been given. Williams, as the demon-child's frazzled mother, suffers from a seeming lack of anything much to do, but manages to pull off her stereotypical character without insulting us too much. As director, poor Peter Faiman (wildly popular in his native Australia as the driving force behind scores of award-winning film and television projects, including the surprise international hit Crocodile Dundee) must have been Shanghaied into working on this annoyingly calculable mess. Maybe this is one of those “critic thingees,” but the most fun I had while watching Dutch was tallying up the (sizable) number of scenes lifted from Hughes' previous films: a little Home Alone here, a lot of Planes, Traines and Automobiles there -- even a dash of Sixteen Candles. If you love John Hughes' movies, fine, you'll doubtless love this one, too. Otherwise, stay home and watch Married With Children.