I think this whenever I see one of his movies, but I really struggle to understand why Christian Slater was such a heartthrob. During the early nineties, he was the shit, and I really struggle to find how he became so huge. Slater has never been in a giant hit, his biggest movie was probably Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, where he was, at best, the fifth lead of that ensemble. This little movie called Kuffs gives you some insight into how he caught on with the masses. The film did not receive a wide release in America, so had terrible box office numbers, but it does showcase Slater’s talents as a snarky wise ass/attractive action man.
Slater play George Kuffs, a 21 year old slacker who recently discovered his girlfriend (a very young Milla Jovovich) is pregnant. His brother (Bruce Boxleitner) owns a rent-a-cop business in San Francisco, and when he is murdered for not accepting a bribe from a crooked art dealer (George De La Pena), George inherits the business. Rather than sell it, George decides to run the place himself and hunt down his brother’s killer (Leon Rippy). Kuffs must convince his employees and customers that he is the right guy to run the show, despite having no experience. With the help of a suspended police officer (Tony Goldwyn), George tries to bring down his brother’s murderers and show everyone he is not the screw up they assume he is.
Look, this is not a great film, but it is a lot of fun. This low budget action flick is a winner purely on Christian Slater and his appeal. Slater is cocky and charming, and even though he dumps his pregnant girlfriend early on in the film he is still incredibly likable. Even though Kuffs was not a huge success, it is still able to showcase why Slater had such a following. He owns this film and it only works because Slater’s sarcastic loser George Kuffs ends up being such a charmer.
The action scenes are quite generic, but there are enough laughs and a charismatic leading man to make Kuffs an underrated action-comedy. Nobody is ever going to confuse Kuffs with Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, but this largely unknown film is still a lot of fun and I found myself laughing far more than I expected.
Kuffs is a pretty mediocre movie, but it did introduce me to the concept of Patrol Special Police franchises. This is such a weirdly unique San Francisco institution that I’m surprised I haven’t heard of it before. Like, I would totally watch a television show about this (scripted or reality).
Anyway, Kuffs itself is pretty unspectacular. It appears to be borrowing a little too heavily from other police comedies, primarily Beverley Hills Cop. In fact, when we watched this movie I commented that the music was very Beverley Hills-esque, and now I read that the same guy scored both films… so there’s that.
Unfortunately, the score is as close as Kuffs comes to emulating the greatness of Beverley Hills Cop. Christian Slater is great, but he’s no Eddie Murphy. He’s not even Chevy Chase in Fletch. Maybe it’s because I was a small child during the late 80s and early 90s, but I don’t entirely understand Slater’s appeal. He certainly has the sarcastic jerk thing down, I’m just not loving it.
To be fair, the script doesn’t give Slater, or any of the other actors, much to do. The story lacks focus, attempting to squeeze too many genres into the script but doing a horrible job of linking them together. The result is a lackluster mess– the comedy isn’t that funny, the drama is hardly explored, and the action is rote.
Kuffs is ultimately forgettable. It’s not the best cop film, and it’s certainly not Christian Slater’s best either.