Hall of Fame Speech #20: Tango & Cash

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. Tango & Cash (or is it Rich & Poe?) check off all the boxes: Sly Stallone, Sly Stallone, and Sly Stallone. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Tango & Cash

There is a term in music for when an artist can, professionally, do no wrong. Songs that have no business even getting airplay just magically work and hit number one, and any project, no matter how vain, is easily launched. It is called the Imperial Period. Tango & Cash is right at the end of Stallone’s Imperial Period, falling among the entire Rambo franchise, the last three Rocky films, and other classics such as Over the Top and Cobra. This is actually an odd film in BMT lore. Patrick was off on a holiday, but had randomly watched this film previously. At that time in BMT history we were, for some reason, under the impression that we would not rewatch films for BMT. But Patrick’s absence lent us an opportunity. He enjoyed the insanity of the film so much he insisted that I watch the film to fill in the gap. And thus, a legend was made. Let’s get into it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • That it’s basically a spoof of action films but somehow wasn’t meant to be.
  • That it is filled with one-liners that mostly don’t make sense
  • Bromance to the max with penis jokes, cross-dressing, Stallone and Russell showering together, and homophobic jokes galore.
  • One of the greatest villains of all time with Jack Palance, who has an office with a literal hall of mirrors and mouse mazes built into it. He’s an insane person.
  • We made our Bad Movie Twins alter egos, Rich and Poe, based almost entirely on Tango and Cash.

So which do I think is the most important? Practically speaking the last point is the biggest. When writing the Bad Movie Twins storyline I spend a lot of time pondering WWT&CD? Would they buck the rulez? Yes. Would they pound some skulls for justice? Yes. Would they bro hug one minute and then slay the ladies with their shredded physiques? Yes, yes, yes. But, unfortunately, I also recognize that the influence on our own very specific disease is not necessarily the point of the Hall of Fame. So begrudgingly I’ll have to recognize that the fact that a film made entirely unironically is somehow still the best spoof of the 80’s action genre ever made is a crowning achievement for any aspiring BMT Hall of Fame candidate.

How did the rewatch go? I think every time I watch this film (and I watch this film not infrequently outside of the scope of BMT) it gets better. I pick up a new little nugget each time. For example I had forgotten that when we are introduced to Rich… I mean, Cash… he chases a bad guy through a parking garage and we are treated to a brief glimpse of classic 80’s nudity where a couple have decided to engage in sexual intercourse in said parking garage. This is obviously insane and fits right in with the idea that this film is actually a spoof… but it’s not. I also think that you can probably watch the film a thousand times and never really get the full picture of Jack Palance’s plan to frame Tango and Cash. I mean, Tango is given the information about the bust from the police chief himself. And we are supposed to believe that he would then let himself get caught despite knowing that the police are aware of the entire situation? What, is he dumb? No, obviously not because he wears glasses and trades in the stock market and wears a suit and keeps on correcting people on their eating habits. Clearly he has a big ol’ brain. So don’t even bother thinking about it. It’s nonsense. 

In fact, I think this may be the dumbest movie ever made. A true check-your-brain-at-the-door action fare that would leave you scratching your head raw if you didn’t just throw up your hands from the jump and say “Forget it, Jake. It’s Tango & Cash.” I mean, Jack Palance has an office fit with a House of Mirrors, a mouse maze, and a box filled with mice that people bring over to him to snuggle! Teri Hatcher “plays” electric drums in front of a giant fan while dancing around NOT taking off her clothes and paying customers are going nuts for it! Kurt Russell dresses up like a lady and instead of people being like “Hey that’s Kurt Russell in a dress” they are like “hey hot stuff, hubba hubba.” It’s all insane and you just have to bask in the glory that is almost every second of the film.

I actually think this goes hand in hand with Here on Earth in that it’s incredibly rare for a film to be made unironically and yet still could be considered a spoof of the very genre to which it belongs. They are two shining stars in the constellation we call BMT (and this journey we call life (and this adventure we call BMT4Life)) and for that it not only deserves its spot in the Hall of Fame, but perhaps will someday help define what it is to be BMT for the aliens that arrive to the apocalyptic wasteland that Earth has become. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Tango & Cash.

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