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By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 19, 1991


Peter Faiman
Ed O'Neill;
JoBeth Williams;
Ethan Randall
profanity and dirty pictures

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Writer-producer John Hughes tries out more pop psychology on the viewing public in "Dutch," a thoroughly trendy dramedy, in that it addresses the issue of homelessness and recycles the plots of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "Uncle Buck."

Ed O'Neill, TV's Al Bundy, is the doggedly boorish Dutch, a self-made man whose blue-collar origins are a great source of pride. His nemesis is his girlfriend's 13-year-old son, Doyle (Ethan Randall), an irredeemably bratty blueblood with naught but contempt for Dutch and his working-class values.

A compulsively monstrous adolescent, Doyle blames his long-suffering mother (JoBeth Williams) for the breakup of her marriage to his priggish, uncaring father (Christopher McDonald). When Doyle refuses to join her for Thanksgiving, Dutch decides to more or less kidnap him from his Atlanta boarding school and drive him home to Chicago.

But Doyle proves more than a match for Dutch, whose hopes of developing a chummy relationship with the kid soon fade. A viciously superior mite, Doyle physically and mentally abuses Dutch -- who now seems amiable by comparison. Doyle is so odious for so long that there is no believing his sudden redemption, which is complete when he gets to know all the nice poor people at the homeless shelter. How did the two get there? A series of smooth plot transitions: After Doyle destroys the car, the supposedly worldly Dutch is ripped off by a hooker who offers them a ride. Penniless and hungry, the two traveling companions find that only the humblest among us are willing to share.

The acting is only a little more uninspired than the screenplay, which is directed without shame or flair by Peter Faiman of "Crocodile Dundee." Perhaps it's fitting, as this film is a crock.

"Dutch" is rated PG-13 for profanity and dirty pictures.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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