Dragnet | Chicago Reader

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Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks are LA police detectives out looking for the facts in this 1987 parody update of the Jack Webb TV series. The old, authoritarian Dragnet was as claustrophobically reined in as this one is comically hung out, though first-time director Tom Mankiewicz (son of All About Eve's Joseph L.) still manages a tight (and often hilarious) simulation of 50s TV classicism with his stripped and boxy neo-noirish styling (up-angle shooting and sculpted Sirkian lighting, a visual field so shallow that every rack focus is a screaming self-announcement) and resourceful use of LA deco iconography. As worshipful kin of his 50s namesake, Aykroyd's Joe Friday affects his uncle's punctuated manner, but his plump, teddy-bear features tell you he's only a speed bump impersonating a roadblock on permissiveness's downward spiral. The film slips occasionally into 80s action-itis and can't resist a few conventional friendship lessons, but most of the time it's fresh, funny, and surprising. With Christopher Plummer, Harry Morgan, Elizabeth Ashley, and Dabney Coleman.

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