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STAKEOUT(director: John Badham; screenwriter: James Kouf; cinematographer: John Seale; editors: Tom Rolf/Michael Ripps; music: Arthur B. Rubinstein; cast: Richard Dreyfuss (Chris Lecce), Emilio Estevez (Bill Riemers), Madeleine Stowe (Maria McGuire), Aidan Quinn (Richard “Stick” Montgomery), Dan Lauria (Phil Coldshank), Forest Whitaker (Jack Pismo), Ian Tracey (Caylor Reese), Earl Billings (Capt. Giles), Jackson Davies (FBI Agent Lusk), Gary Hetherington (Prison Doctor); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: R; producer: James Kouf/Cathleen Summers; Buena Vista; 1987)
“Enough sophomoric jokes about sex to keep it pleasingly diverting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Badham (“Saturday Night Fever”/”WarGames”/”Whose Life Is It, Anyway?”) directs this slick comedy/drama/romance that provides plenty of comedy thanks to Richard Dreyfuss’ portrayal of a bumbling cop romancing the hot Irish American Latino chick played by Madeleine Stowe, whose ex-boyfriend is a vicious psychopathic killer played by a very scary Aidan Quinn. It effectively uses the old stand-bys of the mismatched buddy cop partners in a love/hate relationship and many car chases to cover-up for a weak plot line. It works so well because the actors are likable and the physical gags are perfectly timed in an almost Chaplinesque manner. Though the storyline is empty and baked like a confection, nevertheless there are enough sophomoric jokes about sex to keep it pleasingly diverting.

The eye-opening first scene has Richard Montgomery (Aidan Quinn) breaking out of a Wyoming prison with the help of his cousin Caylor Reese and brutally striking down the prison doctor with a billy club. Since Montgomery killed an FBI agent in a bank stickup, the feds take charge of the case and use the Seattle detectives on a 24-hour stakeout of Maria McGuire’s (Madeleine Stowe) apartment and where she works as a waitress in the hopes they can nab her ex-boyfriend if he returns. We learn he will return because he stashed the robbery money in her pad, something she’s not aware of. On the apartment stakeout, in an apartment across the street, veteran Chris Lecce (Richard Dreyfuss) is teamed with the much younger Bill Riemers (Emilio Estevez) for the day-time shift, while partners Jack Pismo and Phil Coldshank take the night-time shift. The partner teams are fond of playing schoolboy pranks on each other to pass the time in this dull assignment. They hardly seem believable as cops … like that really matters in this pic!

When Chris plants a bug in Maria’s apartment it gives the unstable single the opportunity to meet the beautiful single young lady he has already fallen in love with, and when he runs into her again in the neighborhood it begins a romance that complicates the stakeout.

Stakeout was surprisingly successful at the box office and as a result there was the 1993 sequel Another Stakeout– which was much inferior to the original.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”