Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
"Clint Eastwood will turn you Every Which Way But Loose"
Clint Eastwood, a pretty girl, country music, fistfights, and an orangutan. If any of these things sound like they are up your alley, then you have got to catch this movie. Built for a generation of filmgoers who cared more about having a good time and enjoying themselves then those looking for spot-on realism and super-gritty takes on the world, this movie delivers every bit as much nonsense as it infers on the cover. Read on, fellow person, and I'll tell you exactly what I thought about this foray into a seemingly lost art.
Plot here starts off non-existent, which is to say the opening is just the song Every Which Way But Loose playing as Philo (Clint Eastwood) delivers a truck load of wood, flirts a bit, then drives home. Upon arriving home, we are introduced to Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) and their mom, who's situation with getting her driver's license turns into a bit of a running gag through-out the movie. Later attending a bar, we are introduced to the plot proper - Philo falls for Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke), who after disappearing a few nights later leads to Philo striking out with Orville and Clyde (Manis the Orangutan) in search of her.
Along the way, Philo takes part in a couple of street-rules bare knuckle brawls to make some money, Orville finds a lady of his own, and Philo makes a whole plethora of (rather incompetent) enemies like the Black Widow biker gang and a pair of cops. In the end, Philo story meets it's resolution, and you can actually see the character grow a little bit from it, including during his "final battle" with the infamous Tank Murdock. The plot is thus very straight-forward, ripe with side-adventures (like getting Clyde laid) and montages (searching for Lynn), but allows for enough character development for Philo that it isn't a shallow stream the entire time either - not to confuse you into thinking that it's a river, because it's certainly not treading waters that deep.
Plot being what it is, the best moments are that of comedy, such as the bumbling biker gang that acts so big and bad getting beat up and scared off by everyone from restaurant goers to Orville's little old lady mom. They keep you laughing, which helps keep the movie flowing and enjoyable, as it never allows the mood to get too dark or sad. The interactions between Clyde and Philo also help lighten the mood, giving things ranging from "awww" moments to laughing out loud when we see that Clyde is quite proficient at flipping bikers the bird.
Nothing new as far as audio goes - it isn't any worse off for it's age, with lines and music coming through well. The soundtrack probably consists of four to five songs, all of which are country much like the titular song for which the movie shares a name. A myriad of concert scenes at country bars makes sure most of the songs are caught without competing for audio supremacy over actors lines, and also serves to further the plot, although it does slow the movie down a little bit - a forgivable infraction in my book, as the the look of the man in a latter bar upon sitting next to Clyde is absolutely hysterical.
Choreography in the fights is a bit loose at times, other times being so tight you'd almost imagine it was a real fight. Part of this is due to some camera work - the tight-up chaotic camera in some of the fist fights makes it really hard to follow just what is going on, which is usually remedied by the fact you know the two characters are engaged in a brawl and eventually it cuts to a longer shot to readjust you. Clyde himself does a wonderful job of 'acting' and I can't imagine how many trials it might have taken to get each of the scenes he's in, as the on screen friendship between him and Philo bleeds through in pretty much every scene the two exist in. Heck, there's even a couple scenes with explosions in them to keep the action exciting.
As is usual for real-world movies, costumes here are generally just normal clothes, with the only major exception the biker gang, who ranges a wide breadth of characters. Although everyone of them is a bumbling goof, such accessories range from Swastikas and tattoos to horned helmets and over sized beer guts and old commodore-style hats. Beyond that, however, expect a lot of real-world sets and everyday clothes like jeans and cowboy hats.
I have to love these older movies - any movie that doesn't take itself super seriously for that matter. Modern movies tend to be such dark and gritty kind of things with constant life or death situations, or seven hour long plots filled with hidden meanings crammed into a two hour time slot. Our comedies are laden with low brow humor like CG deer peeing on people, or the same joke that we've all seen a million movies before. It's nice to just escape to a movie that was just meant to be a good time. A man, his quest for love, his side-kick monkey, and all the shenanigans along the way. Don't take it to seriously, it's not meant to be - even if you can see some threads that go a bit deeper than the surface. I enjoyed it, and can't see many other's really having to much an issue with it - its PG, so even younger folks can enjoy it (a bit of an artistically done romance scene, some fist fights, and the worst you really get is an Orangutan giving someone the middle finger).