1987 in Film – Stakeout

Release Date: August 5th
Box Office: $65,673,233

During the eighties it seemed like if you were an actor you were contractually obliged to star in a buddy action comedy. After 48 Hours (1982) it felt like everybody would have a pop from stand up comedians (Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal) to mid-level TV actors (Bruce Willis).

The gold standard was, of course, the buddy cop action comedy which is what we have here, with _Stakeout (1987) teaming up the noted team of Emilio Estevez and Richard Dreyfus. 

It’s quite the pairing, especially when you see the moustache Estevez is sporting in the film. But as pairings go they aren’t all bad; you’ve got the younger Estevez teaming up with the veteran Dreyfus as partners cutting about and catching bad guys.

Bad guys? Yes, because this is a buddy action film.

The film is called Stakeout because our two boys are assigned on a stakeout; the bad guy has escaped from prison and may look to meet up with his girlfriend so Estevez and Dreyfus get to watch her house on the night shift. Meanwhile, the bad guy is indeed on his way because it was in his girlfriends chair where he stashed the money from his nefarious activities.

This is then complicated by Dreyfus falling for the person he’s supposed to be watching, much to the chagrin of his by the book partner Estevez. Hilarity, and gun play, ensues.

Dreyfus was in a, shall we say, interesting place in his career by the time of Stakeout. Following his breakout success in films like Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977) he became he youngest winner of an acting Oscar in 1978. This naturally led to a massive cocaine addiction and time in rehab. His comeback film was Down and out in Beverly Hills (1986) which was a moderate success, so given where the industry was a buddy cop action movie was probably a safe choice.

The film plays to Drefus’ strengths; his character is a bit goofy (illustrated with the introduction of his character constructing a breakfast sandwich) with a bit of depth thrown in where Dreyfus can show some acting. This boils down to hints at his character’s issues with alcohol, it’s not much but enough to give some shading.

Estevez acts as a good foil to this, coming across as the more mature of the two despite his youth. He was also in an interesting place in his career; whilst Dreyfus was off in rehab Estevez was establishing himself as a member of the Brat Pack, mainly as the jock in The Breakfast Club (1985). It’s not exactly a changing of the guard style film, like The Colour of Money (1986) was but it’s a nice coming together of two generations of actors.

And that’s the best way to describe the film really; nice. It has a good cast, a decent story and decent action. The fact that it did so well is certainly a combination of those factors but it certainly helps having a lead pair with good chemistry to get an audience to connect with everything.

Best to ignore the sequel though. 

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