Forget Bruce Springsteen. That other Bruce Willis is the Boss. (He even fancies himself a singer.)
On the strength of his "Die Hard" superstardom, Willis gets co-writing credit for his latest film, "Hudson Hawk," and reportedly mounted this very expensive blockbuster-hopeful as his own pet project.
But "Die Hard" fans are bound to be disappointed as is anyone else in this loud, obnoxious, action-comedy that tries to be a blend of "To Catch a Thief" and "The Naked Gun."
Willis plays the title character, a hip (what other kind would you expect?) but reluctant cat burglar fresh out of Sing Sing prison. He is immediately coerced by his parole officer into stealing a da Vinci statue from an auction house.
With the help of his best friend and longtime partner (Danny Aiello), he pulls off the caper using his tried and true technique of singing a song timed to the action in this case, "Swinging on a Star."
Ostensibly, this job is for a pair of gangsters known as the Mario brothers (one played by Sylvester Stallone's brother Frank), but it's really for CIA agent James Coburn whose four henchmen are named after candy bars and two over-the-top campy villains played by Sandra Bernhard and Richard E. Grant. Then there's the mysterious woman played by Andie MacDowell, who occasional appears to provide romantic interest.
They are after three crystals hidden within da Vinci works, which are integral parts of a gold-making machine . . . oh never mind.
Suffice it to say the plot is convoluted, the characters are silly and the ancient jokes, puns and sight gags are so low they make the Three Stooges seem sophisticated.
Willis, his three co-writers and director Michael Lehmann, whose earlier films were the off-beat black comedies "Heathers" and "Meet the Applegates," employ the "Naked Gun" style of throwing constant gags at the wall. But in the case of "The Naked Gun," the majority of gags stick; in "Hudson Hawk" they all slide to the floor.
The real difference here is that the script is contrived and self-indulgent rather than clever. And Lehmann loves special effects, with explosions, gadgets and gruesome violence punctuating every other scene.
But what is most amazing is the pervasive silliness that has the cast acting like fools without ever getting a laugh from the audience.
MacDowell repeatedly screeches like a dolphin, the Pope in the Vatican watches "Mr. Ed" in Italian, Willis is batted around by karate-kicking Coburn like an inflatable punching bag, the model posing for the "Mona Lisa" has bad teeth, all the dialogue is built around pop-cultural references but none of this is in the least bit amusing.
It's hard to imagine a major, big-budget movie that could come along this year and be worse than "Hudson Hawk," a solid contender for the longest 95 minutes in movie history.
The film is rated R for considerable violence, profanity and vulgarity.