HOT STUFF -- Academy, Annandale, Landover, Laurel Cinema, Tyson Twin and White Flint.
"Hot Stuff" is anything but hot stuff. This comedy derived from police "sting" operations is going to sting any filmgoers out for a laugh.
In the movie, a Miami burglary task force is being disbanded because in two years and 643 arrests, they've chalked up a measly 26 convictions. Not enough evidence. So the task force, Ernie (Dom DeLouise), Louise (Suzanne Pleshette), Doug (Jerry Reed) and Eduardo Ramon DeJesus Saverdera (Luis Avalos), sets out to build iron clad cases. They send a fence to Baltimore and take over his operation. From behind a two-way mirror, Louise videotapes the petty burglars who come in to drop "hot stuff."
To further incriminate themselves, the crooks leaving their booty -- mooseheads, cameras, blenders, squawking chickens or a gross of inch-long harmonicas -- must sign their names and tell where they lifted the merchandise. Only occasionally do the poor bumpkins ask why they need to give identification to fence anything. The answer is obvious: "Why do you think they call it 'organized crime'?"
The humor is strictly low-brow -- old jokes, slapstick and unfunny sterotypes like the Jewish mattron and a black who makes his eyes widen like Buckwheat did in Our Gang comedy days. DeLuise as Ernie never really solidifies as comic character, and an occasional funny touch is either buried, as in the car chase when he lowers the visor as the shooting starts, or cut short, when he dresses as a Hell's Angel to sell a stolen motorcycle, to refinance the police's fencing operation. But his pudgy face is expressive, with cheeks that beg to be tweaked. (They are.)
It's the first movie DeLuise has directed. His wife plays his wife and his kids play his kids, which simplified things.
The constant stream of characters presents a fair number of sight gags: A carton rolls in the door and a midget half its size peeks around; a punk demonstrates a stolen chain saw on the wooden counter; and a woman accidentally fills the room with an inflatable raft. Later, there's a shoot-out in a hard hat area. But sight gags are too weak to sustain this puff of air.
In the end, the heisters are arrested en masse at a party the undercover police throw for them. Curiously, when it's all over, Doug turns to Louise and says, "You're a helluva cop. You're a helluva woman. Sergeant, how would you feel about a little undercover work?"
Did we miss something? He made a gratuitous sexual reference to her when the movie started, but not enough to foreshadow this turnaround. But wait. The credits finish and what's this? Louise wears a wedding gown; she's handcuffed to Doug. She's winking at the audience! She got her man!
Why, that's not funny. That's downright insulting.