Poe is led through the dank twisty turns of a stone passageway. He shivers, lamenting that he didn’t bring his ermine stole. Suddenly he is thrust into the light of an overly elaborate crypt. A ring of men and women stand above him. His breath catches, in the middle of the room is a book, but before he can grab it and backflip his way out of there, he feels a hand on his shoulder. “My fellow members of the most exclusive of dance clubs, The Skulls,” says Mr. Big, an evil look crossing his face, “We have a traitor in our midst. This is no foxy lady with legs for days. It’s a police officer in disguise!” And with that he tears off Poe’s dress to reveal his full detective uniform. A gasp rises from the room. How did he know? Poe’s got to think quickly. “No… no…” he sputters backing away from the dangerous mob of rich clubgoers, “you see I used to be a police officer… but they didn’t approve of my sweet beats and smooth rhythm.” The members stop in shock. How dare the police question sweet beats and smooth rhythm. But Mr. Big is suspicious and insists he, “prove it.” Wiping sweat from his brow, Poe pulls his emergency flute from ankle holster and begins to lay down the bangingest tune that anyone has ever heard. People are straight jamming to the phat flute beats. Suddenly Mr. Big shouts for everyone to stop. “That may have been the phattest beats I’ve ever heard,” he says enraged, “but that doesn’t mean you’re a Skulls.” Poe puts a hand on his shoulder and whispers urgently, “then let me prove it to you. Let’s take a little Thanksgiving road trip together… a road trip through our imagination.” That’s right! We’re doing a TGivs special with a true holiday classic, Dutch starring Ed O’Neill. I’ve seen this countless times and loved it as a child watching it on Comedy Central and now it’s time to see if it stands the test of time as our special 2020 BMT Live(ish) Thanksgiving Spectacular. Let’s go!
Dutch (1991) – BMeTric: 14.2; Notability: 42
(If you are on reddit movies at all you’ll know that this film has become something of a cult classic. People unironically are declaring this as one of the very best TGivs films, on roughly the same level as Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This happened around 2014, and it likely fueled by people in their early 30s who watched this film multiple times on cable in the late 90s. If you were like 10 in 1998 you would have seen this film a ton on television around this time of year.)
RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – You’ve got to give John Hughes a certain amount of credit. At least when he makes a formula picture, he’s following his own formula. Hughes is the poet of the colorful domestic crisis, of the movie where typical Americans do typical things in typical places while learning to be better people than they were at the beginning of the film. Hughes has written, directed and/or produced so many of these films by now that perhaps we can even forgive him for beginning to repeat himself.
(Yeah, so the criticism at the time was definitely along the lines of: been there done that. This film is almost explicitly a mash-up of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (an odd couple travelling across the country for TGivs), Uncle Buck (the working class Joe interacting with the more upper class children), and National Lampoon’s Vacation (as it being a designed road trip for bonding purposes). It was so much so that Hughes didn’t want to direct because he thought he would get shit for just making Planes, Trains, and Automobiles again.)
(I feel like this is not really the message that comes through in the actual film. I’m actually a bit perplexed by the “he’s just a big kid” message on all of the advertising surrounding it. What I remember is the he is mostly a grumpy dude, perplexed by this uptight rich kid … the end. He tried to get him to loosen up, but it isn’t like Dutch is an arrested development loser or anything. I’ll guess we’ll see.)
Directors – Peter Faiman – (Known For: Crocodile Dundee; BMT: Dutch; Notes: A really weird choice. Was one of the creators of the Crocodile Dundee character, and this is his only genuine American feature (Crocodile Dundee was mostly filmed in Australia). Given just how explicitly American it is, it feels weird to go for a very Australian director.)
Writers – John Hughes (written by) – (Known For: Home Alone; National Lampoon’s Winter Holiday; National Lampoon’s Vacation; Planes, Trains & Automobiles; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; The Breakfast Club; Weird Science; Pretty in Pink; Uncle Buck; Sixteen Candles; Miracle on 34th Street; 101 Dalmatians; Some Kind of Wonderful; The Great Outdoors; Mr. Mum; She’s Having a Baby; Future BMT: Home Alone 3; Beethoven’s 2nd; Flubber; Maid in Manhattan; Dennis the Menace; Beethoven; Drillbit Taylor; Just Visiting; Curly Sue; Vacation; Baby’s Day Out; Career Opportunities; Class Reunion; National Lampoon’s European Vacation; Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; Savage Islands; Reach the Rock; BMT: Dutch; Notes: Started by selling jokes to comedians, then moved into television advertising, and ended up working for Mad Magazine as a result. National Lampoon’s Vacation was based on one of his magazine stories. He would spend the late 90s making kid films and writing under pseudonyms. Notoriously prolific writer, and is considered the quintessential voice of 80s teen films.)
Actors – Ed O’Neill – (Known For: Ralph Breaks the Internet; Finding Dory; Wreck-It Ralph; Wayne’s World; Cruising; Wayne’s World 2; The Last Shift; The Spanish Prisoner; Spartan; The Dogs of War; Sun Dogs; Redbelt; Prefontaine; Disorganised Crime; Future BMT: Lucky Numbers; K-9; Sibling Rivalry; Blue Chips; Little Giants; Entourage; The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; The Bone Collector; Nobody’s Baby; BMT: Dutch; Notes: Was hired based on his character of Al Bundy, the father on Married … With Children. He was nominated twice for Golden Globes for that role, and three times for an Emmy for his role on Modern Family.)
Ethan Embry – (Known For: The Guest; First Man; Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies; That Thing You Do!; Can’t Hardly Wait; Blindspotting; Vacancy; White Squall; Late Phases; The Devil’s Candy; Defending Your Life; Cheap Thrills; A Far Off Place; Dancer, Texas Pop. 81; The Independent; Future BMT: They; Disturbing Behavior; Vegas Vacation; The Reunion; All I Want for Christmas; Standing Still; Eagle Eye; War on the Range; Empire Records; Pizza; BMT: Timeline; Sweet Home Alabama; Dutch; Notes: Ended up starring alongside Ed O’Neill in the Dragnet remake in 2003. He is mostly a television actor now, starring in shows like Grace and Frankie.)
JoBeth Williams – (Known For: Poltergeist; Kramer vs. Kramer; The Big Chill; Wyatt Earp; The Big Year; Stir Crazy; The Perfect Catch; In the Land of Women; Teachers; The Dogs of War; Timer; Barracuda; Desert Bloom; Just Write; Future BMT: Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Switch; SGT. Will Gardner; American Dreamer; BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Jungle 2 Jungle; Dutch; Notes: Apparently the role of Murphy Brown was created for her, but she ultimately turned it down.)
Budget/Gross – $17,000,000 / Domestic: $4,603,929 (Worldwide: $4,603,929)
(That is a terrible return. Here’s the thing though: I bet it ultimately made money just by selling the rights to show this film every year around TGivs for the last 30 years. It is one of the best TGivs films by virtue of there just not being that many of them.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (4/23)
(The consensus here is really easy: As if made in a John Hughes factory via assembly line, this is not the worst he’s made, but far from his best effort. Reviewer Highlight: If a film like this is to be funny at all, it had better work when the warring principals still hate each other, before the rich boy is shown to be a sweet kid and the whole story turns to mush. – Janey Maslin, The New York Times.)
Poster – Driving Me Crazytown USA
(Interesting poster. Obviously the font is amazing. Patrick needs to immediately get a print of his name where that’s the “T”. Otherwise it’s just OK. Ed O’Neill must have really been riding that Married… with Children high. )
Tagline(s) – Can a big kid bring out the child in a little jerk? (C)
(I can’t decide whether this is totally mediocre or slightly good. I get the idea and I think they just ran into a stumbling block when it came to “jerk” at the end. Doesn’t really make sense and can’t save the long tagline.)
Keyword – thanksgiving
Top 10: Deadpool (2016), The Santa Clause (1994), The Mule (2018), Prisoners (2013), Boyz n the Hood (1991), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Spider-Man (2002), Contagion (2011), American Gangster (2007), Lady Bird (2017)
Future BMT: 78.6 Superhero Movie (2008), 67.9 College Road Trip (2008), 53.1 Hanging Up (2000), 44.6 Baggage Claim (2013), 33.2 Must Love Dogs (2005), 32.9 Son in Law (1993), 31.6 Free Birds (2013), 27.4 The Comedian (2016), 23.0 Don’t Say a Word (2001), 19.7 Art School Confidential (2006);
BMT: Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), The Prince & Me (2004), The Roommate (2011), The Intruder (2019), Dutch (1991), Deadly Friend (1986)
(We’ve seen quite a few real TGivs films. Paul Blart and The Intruder for example, are real TGivs-centric films. Son in Law is easily the best of the remaining BMT films available. It is so good that it is the other TGivs film on the Calendar challenge.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: JoBeth Williams is No. 3 billed in Dutch and No. 3 billed in Jungle 2 Jungle, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 3 + 6 + 1 = 13. There is no shorter path at the moment.
Notes – The film was mentioned in passing in an episode of Married with Children (1987) during an in-flight to London, as a joke to the film’s failure. Ed O’Neill was the star of the series.
John Candy was the first choice to play Dutch Dooley. (I think he comes across as too nice, although … in that version he would have probably been Uncle Buck which would have probably been fine)
There were plans to do a sequel, which never materialized. (What could the sequel have possibly involved? Just another roadtrip?)
Prior to filming, Director Peter Faiman, Writer and co-Producer John Hughes, and Producer Richard Vane took a road trip throughout Georgia, The Carolinas (North and South), Mississippi, and Tennessee to scout the route of the film’s characters, Dutch Dooley and Doyle would take to drive back home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Faiman liked most of the places that he’d seen during the trip, and they ended up in final film. (I’ll have to watch closely what the actual idea is. So the kid goes to school in Georgia? And why is Dutch there to pick him up then if they all live in Chicago?)
If you pause it just right when Dutch is going through his wallet in the motel room, you can get a clear shot of his drivers license showing his address and name, which reads “David Dooley.” Which means “Dutch” must be a nickname. There’s never an actual mention of “David” in the film. (I love these fun facts)
At one point, Writer/Director/Producer John Hughes considered directing the film but then reconsidered because of the films’ similarities to his other hit film, “Planes, Trains And Automobiles” which revolved around two characters who at first really didn’t like each other and go on a road trip to get back Chicago after having a bunch of setbacks (which included a destroyed/burnt car, being robbed, etc.) for Thanksgiving with a happy resolution.
The surname of Doyle and his family is “Standish”, this name was also used in another John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club (1985), for Molly Ringwald’s character Claire Standish.
Released under the title “Driving Me Crazy” in the UK and Australia.
The large double doors, out of which Dutch bursts, are supposed to be the doors of Doyle’s dormitory. In reality, these doors are the main entrance to Hermann Hall, the administration building at Berry College, where the school scenes were filmed.
This was one of four films that was written, produced or directed by the late John Hughes in 1991. The others were Career Opportunities, this film, Only The Lonely (in which he produced and was Directed by Home Alone’s Chris Columbus) and his final film as director, Curly Sue. They all take place in Chicago, his hometown.
In the restroom at the bus station, the old man bathing in the sink is wearing the same shoes as Doyle after his were stolen on the bus.
There are similarities between the Dutch Dooley character and that of Al Bundy from “Married With Children” in which Writer/Producer John Hughes felt that Ed O’Neill was the right choice for the role.
JoBeth Williams full characters’ name is Natalie Wojejowsky Standish in which she mentions as she introduces herself to other women at Reed’s party early at the beginning of the film.
This was the first and only film that Director Peter Faiman ever directed in the US. He had directed the surprise hit, “Crocodile” Dundee in 1986, in which part of the film took part in New York City but the majority of it was filmed in Australia.
The film is essentially a remake of three other John Hughes films which he also wrote which are “Uncle Buck”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “Planes, Trains And Automobiles”. (That sounds about right actually)
The shoes that Doyle is left with after having his own stolen on the bus are the same as the homeless man’s who he meets in the bus station restroom
At one time in the movie, a billboard is shown, showing that Dutch is actually the owner of a very successful trucking company.