Picks and Pans Review: K-9

UPDATED 05/22/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/22/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

Jim Belushi, Jerry Lee

There's something to be said for a movie that knows it has nothing to say and nothing to prove and just goes its amiable, likable way. That's the case with this film about a San Diego narcotics cop, Belushi, and the mongrel drug sniffer he inherits as a partner, Jerry Lee (see page 121).

That "amiable" has to be qualified, since someone is shot, clubbed, bitten or blown up in every other scene as Belushi chases a drug tycoon. But they are mostly bad guys, after all, and it's clear from the start that the tone of this story is neo-comic book.

Belushi spends a lot of time in close-ups talking to the dog, and he does a marvelous job of making the one-sided banter seem to be conversation. Part of that illusion is due to director Rod (Teen Wolf) Daniel's skill at editing the dog's footage so that he seems to be reacting. Part of it is Belushi's skill at throwing lines away. Part of it is that the script, written by newcomers Steven Siegel and Scott Myers, has a refreshing, countersentimental bite to it. At one point Belushi mutters something about wishing he were working with Benji instead, and when he is trying to browbeat Jerry Lee into behaving, he stares at the pooch and says, "Do you remember the movie Old Yeller? Remember when they shot him in the end? I didn't cry."

Belushi's love interest is played by Mel (thirtysomething) Harris. She gracefully goes about being upstaged by Jerry Lee at every turn. (Now you know how Jan Clayton and June Lockhart felt on Lassie, Mel.) The silliness is never offensive, though, and as Harris must know, every actress has her day. (PG-13)

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