A dog (Hooch) witnesses the murder of its master, crusty old seafarer, Amos Reed (John McIntire). Fastidious small-town police officer Scott Turner (Tom Hanks) then adopts the dog in hopes that it will recognise the killer by scent.
Five writers mangled this premise into an oversentimental comedy which was then subjected to heavy-handed direction.
The dog is played expressively by a trained mastiff named Beasley. To his credit, Hanks never allows the animal to upstage him despite the overabundance of gags written to favour the dog.
The material is what defeats Hanks. Only so much can be done to establish him as a fastidious householder on a collision course with a destructive pooch, and he can only do so much in the way of expressing exasperation.
His change of heart from a selfish type to a more tolerant and giving soul is unbelievably written – and so is his attraction to the anti-fastidious veterinarian, Emily (Mare Winningham) who happens – too conveniently – to own a female collie.
The small-town California setting is a nice change of pace from all those urban cop melodramas (it was filmed in Monterey) and it’s always nice to see Reginald VelJohnson (the Die Hard scene-stealer), who makes much of a modest part as Turner’s protege.
Craig T. Nelson
Ebbe Roe Smith