Lowdown: A fist fighter road tripping after a woman gets entangled with a biker gang as well as the police.
There was a time when I did not appreciate Clint Eastwood. That time is long gone – Unforgiven took care of that – but the truth is that for the majority of the eighties I didn’t think much of Eastwood. The reason is simple: films like Every Which Way But Loose.
When I was growing up, my natural association for the name Clint Eastwood was “the man from the monkey films”. In actual fact, 1978’s Every Which Way But Loose (as well as its sequel, 1980’s Any Which Way You Can) sport an ape as opposed to a monkey - a young orangutan to be more accurate. Regardless of species pin pointing, Every Which Way But Loose’s ape serves as not much more than an ornament. It did, however, cause me to watch the film together with my four year old, working under the assumption he will like the ape. Let the record show I’m a cool parent, letting my boy watch an M rated film with me.
The plot – if you could call this sad excuse for collecting a bunch of not so exciting, at least by contemporary standards, action scenes – has us following Philo (Eastwood). Philo is a truck driver by day and a prize fist fighter during breaks he takes through the course of an average day. Nothing can beat Philo in a fist fight, not even a gang of Neo Nazi bikers he somehow gets entangled with and not even the policemen he starts a fight with at the pub. Sure, his adversaries are not model citizens, but Philo himself is not that great either, even if he is meant to be portrayed as a character of simple charm.
While pubbing, Philo encounters a female singer, Lynn (Sondra Locke). They have their short lived affair, after which Lynn’s jealous boyfriend comes back at Philo with vengeance; this results in Lynn leaving and Philo deciding to follow her. Follow her he does, dragging his friends (humans and ape) with him as well as the revenge seeking baddies that follow him.
That is pretty much all there is to Every Which Way But Loose. It’s badly scripted and badly done, sporting very “old style” action and humor that must have lost its edge ages ago. I suffered watching this simpletons’ movie all the way to its end, and even the four year old couldn’t care much for it. During the love making scene he did ask when the ads are going to finish, probably supplying the best joke the film could manage.
Best scene: The biker gang attacks Ma’s house. It is unclear whether Ma is actually Philo’s mother, but in general they share their residence). Regardless, the bikers find themselves running for cover after Ma draws out her big shotgun and literally blows some of the bikes away. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so predictable; on the other hand, it raises the question of why the vicious bikers didn’t bother carrying guns themselves. Let us regard this as a mild to substantial reliability problem given that various other characters do not seem to have a particular problem conjuring guns at times of need.
Overall: The quality of this film is roughly on par with your average A Team episode from the eighties. I’m giving it 1 out of 5 stars as I find it hard to comprehend how such a film could have ever been as successful as this one was at the box office, some 33 years ago.