DOCTOR DETROIT—from the depths of 1983, shows that if enough good coke goes around on a movie set during shooting, then everyone has a great time doing what they assume is funny. The arrogance and paucity of imagination that drove so many viewers away from TV in the late 70s also did a pretty good job of castrating a slew of movie comedies. You visualize production executives brainstorming: “Look, Dan Aykroyd is a funny guy. All we have to do is stand him up, surround him with some great T&A–and we won’t have to come up with anything hard like a script!”
A doof (Aykroyd) is duped by a pimp (Howard Hesseman) into saving his rear from thugs, and by acting bizarre he becomes a hero to all the hookers and pimps in Chicago. Frantic and frenetic in the manner of a Jerry Lewis effort, but after twenty of its 89 minutes the pointlessness is strained into weariness, and the scattered chuckles evaporate to frozen grimaces.
If a comedy can’t be witty (Woody Allen), or riotously vulgar (Apatow & friends), then it can at least be ridiculous with style (1941)—but style is what’s missing here, along with an appealing supporting cast, coherence, even decent stunts. Dan could be a hoot at times, but pimps aren’t and it’s a shame to dump money and time on such an obvious foray into Schlockville. Best thing here is the title theme song, performed by Devo.
Directed by Michael Pressman, with T.K. Carter, George Furth, Donna Dixon, Fran Drescher, Lydia Lei, Lynn Whitfield, Kate Murtagh, Parley Baer, Andrew Duggan and James Brown (yes, that one). It flopped, making $10,376,000 on a cost of $8,000,000, mercifully killing off a planned sequel.