Dragnet DVD review
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Long before 21 Jump Street came along and retooled an old television property onto the big screen, there was Dragnet. Based on the famous TV and radio show that ran (in various incarnations) for 762 episodes between 1949 and 2004, the Dragnet of 1987 is a loving parody of the original series, starring Dan Ackroyd as by-the-book LAPD cop Sgt. Joe Friday. He is teamed up with a new wise-ass partner, Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks) to try and solve a series of crimes committed by an apparent Pagan cult.
The first half of the film is fantastic, fast paced and hilarious. Aykroyd, who also co-wrote, is sensational as the clean-cut, fast-talking Joe Friday. His famous straight man persona has rarely been employed better than in this film. His motor mouth recitation of regulations, laws and by-laws is a great running gag.
The recipient of most of these rants is Streebeck, who is played wonderfully by Hanks, still in the era before he became Hollywood’s foremost serious actor. When things start to sag in the second act, it is undoubtedly the double act of Aykroyd and Hanks that keep things ticking along.
Because yes, you guessed it, as with so many crime comedies, the plot eventually gets in the way of things. It is ridiculous, makes no sense, and the gag rate suffers as a result.
There are some fun supporting turns, including Christopher Plummer as a giggling televangelist and Alexandra Paul as the “virgin” Connie Swail (making Joe Friday seem modern). The pick of the bunch is Dabney Coleman as the lisping smut king of America, Jerry Caesar.
As a side note, when this film was released, the BBFC awarded it a PG rating. Watching this again for the first time in years, with my 2016 sensibilities hat on, I couldn’t believe how lenient they were. Swearing, chain smoking and the obligatory 80’s cop movie scene in a strip club. They don’t make PG’s like this anymore!