Saturday, November 18, 2023

#2,936. Hot Pursuit (1987) - John Cusack in the '80s Triple Feature


It says more about me than it does the movie, but I would love to go on the adventure that Dan Bartlett (John Cusack) experiences in 1987’s Hot Pursuit!

After failing his mid-term in chemistry, Dan has to tell his girlfriend Lori (Wendy Gazelle) that he’ll have to stay behind to make up the test, and won’t be able to join her and her family on the resort Island of Laguna Del Mar for Spring Break. But when the teacher (Joseph E. Foster) cuts him a break at the last minute, Dan hops in a cab and races to the airport, hoping to catch Lori, her parents (Monte Markham, Shelley Fabares), and Lori’s younger sister Ginger (Dah-ve Chodan) before their plane takes off.

He misses them by a couple of minutes, tops!

So, Dan books another flight to a nearby island, where he’ll catch a taxi and eventually join Lori on what will surely be a dream vacation.

But fate intervenes, and Dan finds himself tagging along with a trio of helpful locals (Keith David, Paul Bates, Ursaline Bryant) before joining renegade tugboat Captain MacLaren (Robert Loggia), who, it turns out, is after the very same Yacht Lori and her family are currently cruising on… only for very different reasons than Dan’s.

By 1987, John Cusack was already an established star, and while he plays Dan a bit too manic at times, he’s as likable as ever in Hot Pursuit. The comedy comes by way of his misadventures, though many of the tight spots that Cusack’s Dan finds himself in are of his own doing, and not the fault of those trying to help him. When their jeep gets stuck in a swamp, Dan leaves Keith David and the others to set out on his own, only to realize soon after that he would have caught up with Lori had he stayed with them.

The film’s romantic aspects work just as well thanks to Cusack and Gazelle, who have good chemistry as the young lovers, and the locations featured throughout the movie are as gorgeous as they come (with Ixtapa, Mexico standing in for the Caribbean).

The real fun of Hot Pursuit, though, is Dan’s adventurous journey to reach Lori. There’s never any chance that he’ll fail in his attempt. We realize early on, by the tone of the film, that this 1987 comedy isn’t the type of movie that’s going to disappoint its audience in the end. Even the sticky situation that Lori and her family get into, when they butt heads with a group of pirates (two of whom are played by real-life father and son Jerry and Ben Stiller), never feels as much of a threat as it might in another movie.

So, while Hot Pursuit is short on genuine suspense (save one exciting sequence when Dan and Capt. MacLaren are sailing through a hurricane), it is a non-stop good time all the same, with Cusack proving yet again why he was one of the ‘80s most appealing stars.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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