ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN - AMC Carrollton, Jerry Lewis Cinema, K-B Cerberus, K-B Georgetown Square, K-B Langley, K-B Studio, Laurel Cinema, NTI Arlington, NTI Tyson's Cinema, Showcase Turnpike and Springfield Mall.
The Hollywood holiday blitz is one of the more recent Christmas traditions. This year the celluloid studios sent us an even dozen -- the Twelve Flicks of Christmas, you might say -- but two of them arrived (as some Christmas cards do) just too late to respond to. Latter-day Clint Eastwood fans -- the ones who've bought his new mellowed-out, soft-spoken tough-guy image -- should enjoy "Any Which Way You Can." This sequel to his earlier hit, "Every Which Way But Loose," delivers exactly what it promises, namely lots of fistfights, car chases, booze, broads and country music, plus a dollop of the old Eastwood bootstrap philosophy ("Handouts are what you get from the government. A hand-up is what you get from your friends").
But it's the fistfight that's taken to new heights or depths, depending on your viewpoint. The plot revolves around a bare-knuckle brawl between Philo Beddoe (Eastwood), a West Coast champion fighter, and his East Coast counterpart, Jack Wilson (William Smith). No point going into it. The punches are photographed in loving detail. They even pummel the camera so you really feel that you're in the brawl -- a dubious achievement.
As for the comedy, it starts out with Clyde the orangutan defecating in squad cars, and goes downhill from there.
Sondra Locke returns as country singer Lynne Halsey-Taylor, mostly looking cow-eyed at Eastwood, and Ruth Gordon does her predictable feisty little-old-lady act. By the way, Gordon's face superimposed on Bo Derek's body is not to be believed.