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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.26%
Worth A Look: 15.38%
Average: 12.82%
Pretty Bad35.9%
Total Crap: 25.64%

1 review, 33 user ratings

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Tango & Cash
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by Erik Childress

"Top Gun - Eat Your Butt Out"
2 stars

Circa 1989, what will officially be the final buddy film of the 80s opens during the Holiday season. The 48 Hrs & Lethal Weapons of the world will have to wait until the 90s to officially continue the sub-genre that dates back to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And what better film to open by Christmas day then one pairing Rambo S.S. Balboa and the “best kept secret in Hollywood” also known as Kurt Russell. If he’s the secret then Tango & Cash is the nosy gossip columnist neighbor because there’s nothing hush hush about this being one of the most homoerotic films ever made. Hey, if Quentin Tarantino can have his theory about Top Gun, then I have every right to make my case.

But first, the plot. Get out your screenwriter’s rolodex. Since no buddy film can start off with the two leads being actual buddies, Ray Tango (Balboa) and Gabriel Cash (Russell) are rival L.A. cops both competing in the newspapers for how big their drug busts are. In the opening scene, Tango chases down a tanker trunk (with a secret panel of cocaine), stands in front of it and punches two bullets through the front window (at over 100 yards with a tiny six-shooter) until its forced to break so hard the two passengers crash through the windshield and onto the highway. Meanwhile, Cash narrowly escapes death in his apartment thanks to his “exploding bazooka boots.” (Serves him right for admiring himself in the mirror.)

Their lead adversary is Yves Perret (Jack Palance) whose signature villain lapcat is a pair of mice (named Tango & Cash) that we keep expecting him to crush Monty Python-style in a sneering contest entitled “Two Blinded White Mice”. Fearing outright war with the police by killing the two “heroes”, Perret devises a plan to put the two behind bars and stretch out their pain while a big shipment gets put into motion. His fellow guns ‘n’ drugs associates can’t understand his “talking killer”-like plan and will continue to ask the same questions in EVERY scene they are in. Perret’s answer – “quick and easy is how you make a cake or clean a toilet bowl or shop by mail” or apparently how you write a screenplay like Tango and Cash. Our heroes are framed, sent to maximum security general population and must escape to clear their names. (All this just five months after Stallone graced the summer of ’89 with Lock Up.)

Yeah, Top Gun may not have seemed like a story about the struggle of one man’s sexuality upon describing its plot either. You have to dig a little deeper which can be done by simply WATCHING THE FILM, a task of 104 minutes that I’m more than happy to save you from. Rest uneasy that once you’ve heard the evidence, you’ll understand that the homoerotic subtext between the two characters couldn’t be clearer if they stopped the film halfway through to just strip down and fuck.

Consider the introduction of Teri Hatcher as Katherine. She shows up in Tango’s office and expresses her disdain with the city (“grime, crime and slime”) and her opportunity to go on a dance tour. Tango all but begs her to stay and she would rather call him then give her number. This relationship may just be a rocky one, but her goodbye air kiss gives hope for the future.

Later, Tango advises Cash to find Katherine if things get “too hot for him on the outside.” He catches up with her at one of those Bruckheimer clubs where hot chicks dance on stage to the delight of horny, drunken men without actually getting nude (see Flashdance or Coyote Ugly). In this case, it’s Hatcher (or Jennifer Beals’ dance double) doing a stage routine involving the worst drum solo since John Bonham played a vomitorium.

Katherine takes Cash back to Tango’s house and begins giving him a massage for a slipped disc. The contrivance of this comical display as Tango walks in on them would be enough for Mr. Roper to think that Jack Tripper was straight. (Oh, wait a minute.) Anyway, it’s finally revealed that Katherine is actually Ray’s sister and not his girlfriend. Let me repeat – she’s his sister – now backtrack.

Tango isn’t upset when he believes that Cash is banging his girlfriend but rather that he’s actually straight and slamming his “beard.” This results to an insane amount of jealousy on Tango’s part, who constantly questions Cash what he was doing with his sister and tells him to stay away. Cash teases him with the possibility that he truly is interested although he seems rather comfortable dressing up like a woman with full dress, wig and makeup (pretending to be a lesbian.) So convincing is he that a cop immediately hits on him looking for a three-way (with him and Hatcher). When dismissed, the cop shoots back with “dikes on bikes, huh captain?”

As Tango & Cash come closer to closer, they are repeatedly foiled in their effort to successfully complete a high five (the kind with the interlocking fingers.) Who can ever forget Seinfeld’s deduction that “slapping hands is the lowest form of male primate ritual.” Next witness. Does it really need to be explained how T & C’s climactic vehicle, tagged the “RV from hell”, resembles a giant mushroom head? Do I really need to explain what I mean by “giant mushroom head?” Just check out the size of the scope/laser pointer that Cash has planted on top of his gun. It’s the kind of thing that Ron Jeremy would use if he ever needed to deemphasize his gigantic shlong. In fact, let’s see how many dick jokes the filmmakers can cram into one movie, starting with T & C’s first meeting when Tango threatens to blow Cash’s off. The film would be more honest if they’d just cram them into each other’s asses where they obviously want it. But don’t take my word for it – the movie says it all for itself.

CAPTAIN SCHROEDER: If you really wanted to stare death in the eye, you should have gotten married.
TANGO: Is that a proposal?

(In reference to the prison they’re about to be sent to)
CASH (to Tango): Longpoke Federal Country Club – I understand they open the gym at 5 am – you can start pumping early.

TANGO: I think my underwear is riding into my throat.

CASH: Nice to see your underwear problem is solved.
TANGO: Cash, you can stop holding in your stomach.

(The infamous shower scene as Cash bends down to pick up the soap.)
TANGO: What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?
CASH: Relax. Soap. And don’t flatter yourself…Pee Wee.
TANGO: I don’t know you that well. Don’t worry Cash, someday the other one will drop.
CASH: That a boy, tripod, you just keep talking.
TANGO: Sure thing Minnie Mouse.

PRISONER: Cash, I’m going to put Brown Sugar in your ass.

“CONAN” (to Tango): I’m going to tear you a new ass.
TANGO (to “Conan”): If you need me – me and my ass will be in the neighborhood.

CASH’S CELLMATE: That crapper is mine.

CASH: I have a slight aversion to getting FUBAR.

TANGO(about his cellmate): This is my fiance Slinky. Up, Slinky.
CASH: I hope you and Cousin It are very happy together.

CASH: You are one major mistrustful maladjusted human fucking being, you know that?
TANGO: Yeah, well I love you too.

TANGO: Do you know where you’re going?
CASH: I know exactly where I’m going.
TANGO: Then get your ass out of my face and get there.

CASH (to Tango): Way to go – you almost nailed your captain.

CASH: I think my pantyhose are riding up into the unknown.
TANGO: Way up into the unknown.

TANGO (to Katherine): What the hell were you doing on the couch there with Queen for a Day?

CAPTAIN SCHROEDER: I can only keep the department off your backs for another 24 hours.

CAPTAIN SCHROEDER (to Cash): I suggest you slip into something a little more butch.

TANGO (to Katherine): What were you doing on the couch with the Elephant Man?

TANGO: You’re going to make a very ugly bride someday
CASH: Is that a proposal?

(to Cash): I really don’t think my sister is your type.

CASH (to Requin): Tell me meat puppet who pulls your strings.

TANGO (about Requin): I don’t want the leg. I want the whole package.

TANGO (to Cash): If you don’t want to get sticky, get back, Jack.

CASH (to Tango): I’m not going down for this Tango, I mean it.

CASH (about Owen): Does this guy have some gray matter or what?

CASH: Oh wait a minute why is yours bigger than mine?
TANGO: Genetics, pee wee.

TANGO: You OK Cash?
CASH: Yeah, clean exit.

And if there is still any doubt…

TANGO: Cash, watch the right!

I rest my case.

Whether the film is pro-or-anti-gay, other minorities take a pounding as well. Forget about James Hong as the slow-smoking baddie Quan, the American (Marc Alaimo) playing a character named Lopez and a Ukranian (Palance) playing a Frenchman sans any trace of an accent. I’m talking about the scenes like the Russian immigrant with all the subtlety of Yakov Smirnoff having his car commandeered by Cash who promptly wrecks the hell out of it. “Welcome to America,” he replies. Or how about the supercops playfully referred to as “Downtown clown vs Beverly Hills Wop.” Heavy favorite Brion James plays the heavily accented henchman Raquin who offends Cash’s delicate sensibilities about getting killed (“just don’t let him do it. I don’t wanna killed by this limey, immigrant jerkoff. I want to be killed by an AMERICAN…JERKOFF!!!) Those not on the phone to Jesse Jackson as we speak should fast forward to the scenes involving Cash and the Chinaman that tried to kill him. After getting information out of him by choking him with a chair, Cash tells him he’s “speaking like a native already” before calling him a “squarecrow” in court. (“What would you call it?” says Cash.) I couldn’t make this up if I was David Duke at a molasses factory.

Tango and Cash, on a positive spin, at least has that great “let’s keep moving and get this thing over with” quality that can only be accomplished when a director walks off the picture. Andrei Konchalovsky (Runaway Train, Shy People) took his slate and went home halfway through production. He was replaced by Albert Magnoli (Purple Rain, American Anthem) by can sleep uncomfortably that his sole directing credit survived.

Screenwriter Randy Feldman (Nowhere to Run, Metro) should have been tossed into a Russian Roulette contest while a group of aspiring unpublished screenwriters got free tickets. Whether it was an improvise or not, Stallone’s self-effacing quip “Rambo is a pussy” is an affront to everything he was trying to represent as the noble hero of the Vietnam veterans. It’s obvious that huge chunks of the story were either cut out or not even filmed, so perhaps its unfair to blame Feldman for questions like what exactly is the catalyst that causes the FBI to bust in on T & C considering that the bogus tape isn’t made until after the arrest? Or how does Cash not notice his gun on the crime scene? Or how the hell did he get paid for writing this shit? Feldman may not have been aware of the rampant subtext he was writing, but anyone who gets paid six figures for ripping off Daffy Duck cartoons (“I think what you need is a little iron in your diet.”) and Beverly Hills Cop II (“where the hell did you learn to drive? Stevie Wonder.) doesn’t deserve Robert DeNiro trying to talk him out of his bullet odds.

B-movie fans may rejoice in the virtual who’s who of supporting players including the infamous Clint “I’m INFESTED!!!” Howard (Ticks), Robert “Jawbreaker” Z’Dar (Maniac Cop), Eddie “Reservoir Dog” Bunker, Michael “Jumbo” Jeter, Richard “Elaine’s Boss from Seinfeld” Fancy and Michael J. Pollard (playing a cross between 007’s “Q” and Peter Cushing’s bookseller in Top Secret.) Guilty pleasure fans may actually have a blast with Tango and Cash. I mean where else can you see two Hollywood superstars get to reenact a live-action version of Operation when they have to wade through a group of sparking electrical circuits. A party gathering and a few drinks and your night could be set. Sober practicality, however, may get the better of you though as you wade through mysogyny, racism and homophobia. Then again, if you’re into that kind of thing then say it loud and say it proud, “we’ll miss you most of all Squarecrow.”

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/03/02 15:49:20
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User Comments

2/13/19 Bents Plays like a parody. Enjoyable as time capsule of 80's cliche 4 stars
10/05/18 morris campbell enjoyed it when i was young 3 stars
1/09/15 david froman 80's guilty pleasure 3 stars
9/14/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Underrated action.comedy. Love those cheesy one-liners 4 stars
7/24/10 bagwell5 Not a good movie, but I enjoy it. Not believable for a second with horrible dialogue. 2 stars
2/10/08 Pamela White one to miss 2 stars
12/24/06 Antonio One of the worst movies I've ever seen 1 stars
8/03/06 JM Synth A Film that aims so low it can hardly fail- and doesn't. Fun for the most part 3 stars
7/29/05 tony sweet movie 4 stars
1/29/05 ralph a true movie expert 32 yrs old terrible film 2 stars
5/14/04 John a lousy script - Stallone and Russel are doing their best but it doesn't help much 2 stars
5/11/04 ta mere very good 5 stars
5/05/04 J.Peckerfoot Funny,trashy,ya gotta laugh!its great. 4 stars
12/14/03 Sugarfoot Surprisingly tolerable 3 stars
10/23/03 R.W. Welch Inane buddy cop flick, short on realism and originality. 2 stars
4/11/03 Jack Sommersby Stupid but admittedly fun. The grand finale is weaklystaged. 3 stars
4/11/03 kurt matthews its a great cheezy movie, kurt russell rocks 5 stars
7/03/02 Roy Smith Crap - but good crap. So bad it's almost great! 4 stars
7/03/02 Charles Tatum Completely unremarkable 2 stars
1/01/02 Cookie Cutter This movie was so bad, I stopped being against torture on humans. 1 stars
7/15/01 Rampage I'm not going to dignify that tripe with a comment. Final verdict: F 1 stars
7/04/01 Rory this movie sucked monkey balls 1 stars
6/25/01 Scott Hilarious, Stallone is cool and Russell is funny and cool 5 stars
6/22/01 Paul funniest film I've ever seen!Rakeen is very funny 5 stars
5/20/01 ntwrage Yea..... this movie was not good at all. 1 stars
5/18/01 Spetters Oh, it´s bad! but...not THAT bad... 2 stars
5/17/01 The Bomb 69 i thought it was enjoyable 4 stars
5/17/01 Monster W. Kung I won't even spend too many words for this. 1 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla Stallone, please, this is a piece of shit 1 stars
8/23/00 zall I wasted my good time to watch this crap 1 stars
2/07/00 Lame-Oh bad idea for a pair like Sly and Kurt 1 stars
12/01/99 Trip a waste of perfectly good camera film 1 stars
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  02-Dec-1989 (R)



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