Believe it or not, this is the first movie I’ve covered for this blog to have the “Alan Smithee” designation, that is, a film in which the director (in this case Stuart Rosenberg) was so disgusted with the end product he took his name off of it. Some Alan Smithee movies are a pretty good time. “Let’s Get Harry,” sadly, is not one of them. It went straight to video and it should stay buried in a very deep bargain bin.
You would expect campy fun here, from the ridiculously lazy title and the even more ridiculous casting; someone decided that Michael Schoeffling (the teen hunk from “Sixteen Candles”), Rick Rossovich (the goofy, towel-flinging hunk from “Top Gun”), Thomas Wilson (who played the buck-toothed villain Biff in “Back to the Future”) and Glenn Frey (the mustachioed Eagles member who resembles a porn star) would be convincing as blue collar workers turned vigilantes. These guys are supposedly furious that their friend, an engineer sent to Colombia on a project, has been kidnapped by revolutionaries, and the damn government won’t do anything to rescue him. (Playing this friend, the Harry of the title, is Mark Harmon, another vacant ’80s hunk, who shows his edginess here by allowing himself to be filmed, during one captivity scene, with a five o’clock shadow). So they take it upon themselves to free Harry.
But only Wilson looks at all scared or driven during this film. The others, whether their characters are being tortured or are torturing/brutalizing other characters, look bored and petulant. Who can blame them, though? This is a dumb, flag-waving, right-wing fantasy movie along the lines of “Red Dawn,” but it lacks that movie’s blind bigotry and, in turn, its energy. When someone expresses outrage, it usually comes out bland (“You deal in misery,” Harmon coos at the terrorists.)
To shake up the proceedings, Rosenberg and crew at least hired two veteran, show-stopping actors: Robert Duvall, in Walter E. Kurtz mode with his shaved head and military bandana, as the loose cannon weapons expert recruited to help the boys; and the never predictable Gary Busey, as a TV tycoon/safari hunter whom the boys blackmail into financing the trip. Unfortunately, Duvall exits the picture rather early, and Busey only manages a few crackerjack lines and mannerisms. In the sole memorable scene, he narrowly escapes being eaten by an alligator, and yells “Little creep, I’ll have you on a stick!”
There are jungle cats and pythons and shootouts and guerilla ladies to come, but this movie is as murky and sluggish as its swamp setting. It’s jingoism at its most listless.
In a December 1986 Toronto Star interview, when the film’s potential release was still in limbo, Frey said, “It’s not ‘Gone With The Wind,’ but it’s not a piece of shit, either.” Seven years later, he admitted the film was “slightly forgettable.” In 1988, Harmon told the Chicago Sun-Times: “It’s a good script, but a bad movie.”
“Let’s Get Harry” can be viewed on Amazon Instant.