Movie Review – ‘Dragnet’ (1987)

TV series have made the leap from the small screen to the big screen in recent years with some modicum of success, while others have fallen flat. A lot of people credit Wayne’s World and The Brady Bunch Movie for paving the way. However, some forget one of the first movies to break this new ground was 1987’s Dragnet.

Dan Aykroyd stars as Joe Friday, the nephew of the original detective. He protects the streets of Los Angeles with his partner, Frank Smith, under the watchful eye of Captain Gannon played by Harry Morgan. Frank quits the force and decides to follow his dream of raising goats. Friday’s new partner Pep Streebek played by Tom Hanks is the complete antithesis of Friday; young, hip, and a cop who doesn’t play by the rules.

Friday and Streebek are on the trail of a group calling themselves P.A.G.A.N. Most of the crimes committed in the city are strange and unusual and a calling card left by the P.A.G.A.N.S is left behind at the scene, taunting the boys in blue. Although these crimes seem random, Friday and Streebek are hot on the trail of the P.A.G.A.N.S. Can they stop the group and discover their leader before it’s too late?

This comedy classic is one that’s often overlooked, but one I always mention when discussing Tom Hank’s string of comedy classics in the 1980s. Aykroyd and Hanks are a dynamic comedy duo who play off each other well. Seeing these two made me think of some other comedians teaming up together. One particular question came to mind – have Hanks and Bill Murray ever starred in anything together?

This movie touts an all-star cast featuring Christopher Plummer, Alexandra Paul, Jack O’Halloran, Elizabeth Ashley, and Dabney Coleman. I love the scenic views of the city of Los Angeles. The Hollywood Sign, the Brown Derby, and Griffith Observatory are pivotal locations in the movie.

Like many of the comedy classics of yesteryear, there are some jokes and themes that would have a hard time making it on film today. Although Christopher Plummer gives a wonderful performance as a potential suspect in the film, it’s the occupation of Mr. Whirley that could leave a few viewers uncomfortable. I wanted to give this warning to you before you stream or watch the movie.

I have given you just the facts, sir and ma’am, about a comedy classic that deserves your time and attention. If you decide to pass on the movie, you owe it to yourself to watch the music video for “City of Crime” by Aykroyd and Hanks that plays over the end credits, which I have embedded for your viewing pleasure.