Pink Cadillac

October 18, 2012

Clint Eastwood runs out of gas in Pink Cadillac, a redneck comedy that looks suspiciously like a bone thrown to his longtime fans.

Eastwood, as a director, has become interested in ambitious projects such as his brave three-hour jazz biography, Bird, and an upcoming adaptation of White Hunter, Black Heart, in which he plays a ruthless film director in Africa (a character modeled on John Huston). But Eastwood is a shrewd businessman who knows which side his bread is buttered on, thus the margarine slapstick of Pink Cadillac.

Clint plays a skip tracer, a guy who finds runaway bail jumpers and brings them back to custody. His boss says, “If I may quote the immortal Olivia Newton-John, ‘Have you never been mellow?'” Actually, Eastwood seems pretty mellow. Indeed, he’s just marking time.

His new quarry is a young mother (Bernadette Peters) who has been wrongly implicated in the counterfeiting scheme of her sleazy husband. When Eastwood finds her spending some of the funny money in Reno, he quickly packs her off. Naturally, it doesn’t take long before she has charmed him and convinced him that she’s lily white. And Clint takes a more active role in her welfare when the sleazy husband kidnaps her baby, which leads to a white supremacist camp where hubby is a card-holding neo-Nazi.

Pink Cadillac is in the vein of Eastwood’s monkey movies, Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can. There’s no orangutan, but there’s a lot of silliness, much of it absolutely leaden. Buddy Van Horn directs with such laboriousness that it takes forever to establish the simple perimeters of the story.

The climax, in which a lot of things blow up at the supremacist camp, is perfunctory. However, between the setup and the finale is some reasonably laid-back banter between Eastwood and Peters, and John Eskow’s barbed script invents some goofy disguises for Clint to assume (he does a very good tobacco-chewing cretin).

There’s no “Go ahead…make my day” here, but the closest facsimile comes when Eastwood points a gun at the villain’s head and asks, “Are you an organ donor, Alex?” Dirty Harry would’ve smiled.

First published in the Herald, June 1, 1989

A bad one. But then, given his performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention, we can conclude that Eastwood’s comedy sense runs along a narrow line of personal taste. Still, typing up the plot of this thing makes it sound lunatic enough to actually be intrigued, if I hadn’t already sat through it once.