Dragnet (1987) a Very (Just the Fact, Ma’am) Belated Review

Wow. 1987, eh?

That’s when the Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks starring parody remake of Dragnet, the famous no-nonsense police procedural which started as a radio show before becoming very famous as a TV show was released.

Thirty three years ago?!?


That, my friends, was the first, and only, time I ever saw the film. It was a date, you see, well before I met my future wife, and it went no-where. The date, that is.

But at least I remembered having fun with the film!

I hadn’t seen it since then and, frankly, hadn’t given it all that much thought.

Today, the movie was on one of the various cable channels and I caught it from almost the very beginning (I might have missed the first two or three minutes, nothing terribly big) and without the pressure of a date (which, I repeat, went absolutely nowhere), I was able to sit back and enjoy the film for what it was.

And it was a freaking hoot.

Here’s the trailer:

Dragnet was one of, if not THE first “parody” remake of a TV show. In more recent years we’ve seen parody remakes of Starsky and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels (the version with Barrymore/Diaz/Lui was pretty much parody… don’t know about the more recent one), and, for a while, there was talk about a Jim Carrey comedic version of The Six Million Dollar Man (obviously, it never came to be).

Dragnet originally featured the deadpan acting and narration of Jack Webb. Here’s a sampling of that…

Yeah, it could be a little… much.

But considering Dragnet first appeared in the 1950’s and continued through to the early 1970’s, I suppose one can excuse its super starched collar presentation.

By the time the film version was being made, it was ripe for parody and getting Dan Aykroyd to mimic Jack Webb’s ultra-seriousness (he also co-wrote the movie’s script) as “Joe Friday”, the grandson (or was it son?) of the original Joe Friday was a stroke of genius.

So too was getting Tom Hanks to play his much more loosey goosey new partner, Pep Streebeck. For almost the entire film we witness their interaction and, I have to say, it was almost always very funny.

Back in 1987 Tom Hanks was known primarily for his comedic talents, and he plunged headlong into the role along with Aykroyd to deliver a wonderful send-up on the whole bickering partners cliche.

The plot is delightfully silly, involving Pagan worshipers, a mayoral race, a porn publisher (Dabney Coleman in a humorous send up of Hugh Hefner), and a religious moral majority type (Christopher Plummer, positively oozing serpentine cool).

These various characters have plenty of story between them, double dealings and betrayals, while Friday and Streebeck try to bring the various wrong-doers in.

The movie at times reminded me of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films and, while not quite as good as the best of them, Dragnet nonetheless managed to keep my attention and make me laugh many times throughout.

It’s always curious how some films are well remembered while others fade from the public consciousness. I suppose Dragnet isn’t one of the best remembered Dan Aykroyd or Tom Hanks films. One could even say it is mostly forgotten today. It’s quite a shame because the film is delightfully daffy and well worth checking out.

And remember kids: Thank God it’s Friday!