My first memories of Dutch are the VHS box at the video store growing up. I’d look at it, and go “Wow, Al Bundy’s in a movie!” and then I’d just pick something else to watch. It wasn’t until maybe 2018 or so that I realized that Dutch was 1. a Thanksgiving movie 2. written by John Hughes. Throw in a young Ethan Embry as a co-star and I rushed out to watch it and all I could remember was it was mediocre.
I decided this Thanksgiving to give Dutch another shot since it was streaming on Max, and well, my opinion still hasn’t changed. Dutch is a very mediocre film that struggles tonally. There are some decent moments (bb gun, walking in the snow, and the prostitutes) but those moments don’t make up for all the boring moments and the lack of pay off.
I hate to say a cross word about a script by John Hughes, but this film feels like a first draft. There are good scenes but tying them together just doesn’t come naturally and despite some decent performances from the cast, the movie occasionally falls into a cartoonish territory that works in say Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (John Candy looking like the devil) but really doesn’t work here. It’s almost as if the director asked Ed O’Neill to play a less creepy version of Al Bundy and well… it doesn’t work.
I watched Little Giants right before watching Dutch and Ed O’Neill shows that he has range outside of being Al Bundy. I know, Little Giants came after Dutch, but I really think he could have done a lot more with a better script and better direction.
I think what hurts most about Dutch is it lacks heart. John Hughes had this incredibly skill at taking dysfunctional people at odds and bringing them together in the end that felt natural. Dutch just doesn’t have that.
It may sound like I’m dumping on the movie, and I’m honestly trying not to. It’s not a terrible movie, it’s just very underwhelming. It needed some editing and maybe a couple more rewrites on the script and I think we could have had something as memorable as Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
If you are looking for a new Thanksgiving movie to watch, feel free to give Dutch a try. Just go in with low expectations and you’ll find some enjoyment is to be had.