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  Armed and Dangerous Mostly A Danger To Themselves
Year: 1986
Director: Mark L. Lester
Stars: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Robert Loggia, Kenneth McMillan, Meg Ryan, Brion James, Jonathan Banks, Don Stroud, Larry Hankin, Steve Railsback, Robert Burgos, Tony Burton, Robert Gray, Larry Flash Jenkins, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, James Tolkan, David Hess
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Frank Dooley (John Candy) did not have the best of days today. For a start, in his capacity as a police officer he was asked by a little girl to fetch her kitten from out of a tree, which he reluctantly tried to do but ended up stuck there himself and had to be rescued. With that out of the way he was patrolling the streets when he noticed a robbery taking place, so marched forward to arrest the criminals only to find he was talking to a couple of fellow police offcers. When the rest of the cops showed up, the bent coppers pinned the blame on Dooley despite his protestations, and now he's out of a job...

So he does what any policeman who has been fired does, and that's become a security guard, which presumably was set up as an alternative to the usual buddy movie where two mismatched cops will bumble their way through a case. But Candy couldn't be in a buddy movie on his own, he needed a partner, so step forward Eugene Levy as Norman Kane, a lawyer who decided defending all these lowlifes was not good for his health, especially when they threatened him when they were sent down, so opted for the security guard option instead. Though quite why he thought that was more appropriate for him than an office job is something of a mystery.

Anyway, Candy and Levy were of course friends themselves, having collaborated on the classic sketch show SCTV which also assisted Harold Ramis who contributed to the script of Armed and Dangerous (though reputedly he was unhappy with the results). Originally this was yet another of those proposed vehicles for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi which had to be either cancelled or retooled after Belushi's untimely death, which should offer you some idea of how long this was in development, by which point it was about as generic a movie as you could imagine, with its mixture of laughs, action and suspense very typical of what comedians were up to on the big screen back then.

After a few Police Academy style scenes where the guards are trained for the job, there's the introduction of the boss, Captain O'Connell (Kenneth McMillan), and his daughter who works for him, Maggie (Meg Ryan) and provides love interest for... go on, guess. Nope, not John Candy, perhaps because she was half his size so to see her romantically involved with this enormous man would put all sorts of bizarre imagery into the audience's heads, so she got to be courted by Levy, though they never share so much as a kiss. Meanwhile, there was more union-bashing here than in the entirety of On the Waterfront as the Robert Loggia-led guards' union is taking a massive cut from their members' wages.

Not only that, but they are involved in organised crime to boot, so when Dooley and Kane twig that all is not on the level when they interrupt a heist at a warehouse they decide to put their legal expertise to good use and work out what exactly is going on. They do tend to draw attention to themselves, so when placed in terrible positions such as guarding the garbage dump or a toxic waste facility it becomes imperative that they sort out the corruption and move up in the world, or at least get to a better place not involving demeaning occupations. That this progresses to some fairly demeaning incidents anyway was par for the course in a comedy which was keen to get its leading men into a sex shop while being chased, persuading a transvestite and a leather man to swap clothes with them, and walk out in these disguises for purposes of assumed hilarity. Before long the climax has arrived and huge explosions are going off, again much as you'd expect from a Mark L. Lester movie which was easy to watch, raised a few laughs, but beneath the eclectic cast's talents, really. Music by Bill Meyers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Mark L. Lester  (1946 - )

Prolific American director/producer who specialises in crowd-pleasing B-movies, usually action or horror. Earlier films include more serious works like the award-winning documentary Twilight of the Mayas and Steel Arena, plus 1976's hilarious exploiter Truck Stop Women, Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw and Roller Boogie, with Linda Blair.

The 1980s was Lester's most successful decade, with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando, Firestarter, Class of 1984 and Armed and Dangerous all finding huge success on home video. Other films include Class of 1999, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Night of the Running Man and Blowback.

 
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