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‘Turner & Hooch’ (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 28, 1989

The dog days are here and Touchstone Pictures is cleaning out its kennels. Here comes "Turner and Hooch," a mutt and Jeff thriller in the "K9" mold. This buddy action adventure finds mouth-watering Tom Hanks, as the fastidious detective Turner, up to his pockets in dog slobber. Howl and damnation, if this isn't just one long, stomach-turning drool joke.

Hooch's jowls foam like a rabid dog's, and this Sydney Greenstreet of mastiffs splatters and drips and oozes all over Turner's compulsively neat squad car. Initially appalled, Turner, of course, overcomes his revulsion and comes to love Hooch in spite of his leaking muzzle, gas attacks and buzzard breath. Have we seen this plot a few times? Bet your basset.

In this version Hooch, a misunderstood junkyard-type animal, moves in with Turner after the dog's eccentric master is killed by a big-city thug who has come to their small coastal town to launder money in a fish factory. Hooch, the only witness to the crime, helps Turner collar the culprits. In the process the hero -- so meticulous he trims his nose hair daily -- learns that life is really as messy as the floor next to the dog dish. Which sort of opens him up for love.

The amenable Mare Winningham waltzes through a small part as the veterinarian who gives Hooch a checkup while housebreaking his master's heart. A newcomer in town, this former city girl is looking for peace, quiet and a father for her five future kids. Turner tries to resist her freckled charms, but the opposites go together like water and Gravy Train.

If there's a new hair in this dogeared dramedy, it would take a bloodhound to sniff it out. A second collaboration by "Shoot to Kill" producer Daniel Petrie Jr. and director Roger Spottiswoode, "Turner and Hooch" underscores the need for a leash law for producers.

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