Cinema: No Exit

2 minute read
Frank Rich

EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE Directed by James Fargo Screenplay by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg

Clint Eastwood’s movies make lots of money, but lately Burt Reynolds’ offerings have been making even more. Perhaps this is why Eastwood has let loose with Every Which Way but Loose, a bald attempt to copy such Reynolds hits as Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper. It’s a sorry enterprise. Though Eastwood has his talents, light comedy is not among them. With his granite glances and stony delivery, he’d be better off playing Hamlet than spinning jokes. When Eastwood tries to put on a happy face, it comes out as a snicker.

Every Which Way goes in every which direction to no particular avail. It is nearly impossible to sit through. Chase scenes, barroom brawls and barehanded boxing matches follow in dizzying succession, but the movie rarely lurches forward. Director James Fargo (Caravans) seems to delight in disorienting the audience: it is a major chore to figure out who is punching whom, not to mention why. For punctuation, there are running gags. Ruth Gordon pops up, without warning or justification, to do her foul-mouthed-old-lady routine; the Gray Panthers would be well advised to have an injunction slapped on her. An orangutan called Clyde does cute monkeyshines that recall the heyday of Jack Lescoulie and J. Fred Muggs on the Today show. Sondra Locke, a pretty good actress and an Eastwood protégée, comes on to sing the obligatory country-and-western songs in a modified screech.

If Eastwood doesn’t put a quick end to Locke’s singing career, he may wake up one day to discover that he has created his own Cybill Shepherd. — Frank Rick

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com