After iconic performances as the man with no name, and Dirty Harry, it's somewhat humorous that Clint Eastwood signed on to play the lead in 'Every Which Way But Loose.' His advisors were utterly against their client appearing in such a screwball, nonsensical film, but even they had to swallow their tongues when Eastwood led the film to great success, in fact, it was one of his strongest box office earners, so successful that the film about nothing spawned a sequel.
The moral of that story applies to the film itself: never underestimate the pull of a man and his monkey. Especially if that man is Clint Eastwood.
Philo Beddoe (Eastwood) is a rough and tumble trucker, ladies man, bare knuckle boxer, and owner of two American institutions: a chevy pickup truck, and Clyde, his ill tempered orangutan. When Philo meets Lynne Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke) after a gig, he falls cowboy hat over boots for the singer, who up and leaves him in the dust. Philo's not the kind of man to take a hint, so he, Clyde, and his neighbor Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) set off to find the runaway country musician, encountering a pissed off Nazi biker gang, equally pissed off cops, a sharp shooting vegetable stand clerk named Echo (a baby faced Beverly D'Angelo), simian booty calls, and the occasional street fight. All's in a days work.
If ever there were a film with no point, it would be 'Every Which Way But Loose,' rambling through the relationship drama, buddy road trip comedy, and madcap action genres like there were no distinction. There is no real conflict, no antagonist, no purpose or sense to be made of the proceedings, just the journey of a man who is all heart and muscle, with little to no brains behind them.
Eastwood is fantastic (as always), providing solid comedic timing mixed with the oddest sense of urgency for a man with no real purpose in life. His chemistry with his monkey costar shines through as the most memorable theme of the film. You can see the love Philo has for his furry companion, and vice-versa, and don't question it, despite the bizarreness of the situation. Clyde is perfect, the only creature on Earth with more piss and vinegar running through his veins than Philo, stealing vehicles, flipping off adversaries, and fetching beers, putting any relationship between man and dog to shame.
I can see some people scratching their heads while watching this film, especially over 30 years later. Philo picks fights over territorial disputes about bar peanuts. Bar peanuts. As if there were a shortage of free salty snacks in the world! The Black Widow biker gang is a tad ridiculous, rarely ever busting out guns, despite the fact that their vehicles are constantly destroyed or stolen. They have the numbers game covered, and the firepower more than handled, yet they're constantly one upped by a simple minded redneck who is more Forrest Gump than he is Dirty Harry. The leader of the gang, Cholla (John Quade), is something special, short, fat, and hairy, wearing an ascot and jackets without shirts that cover his rug, with a black widow tattooed on his gut, shaved all around it. In a word or seven, he's utterly repulsive to taste and fashion. Orville's mother, 'Ma' Boggs (Ruth Gordon) is a distraction to the already scatter brained plot as well, with her constant failures at her DMV tests just taking screen time away from Clyde unfairly.
'Every Which Way But Loose' is the kind of story you'd expect a grandparent to reminisce about: the seriousness of love, the bravado shown in the face of severely outnumbered odds (that grow more drastic over the years), the wit and charm that telling the tale hundreds of times would bring, and the love for friendships that never faded through the years. Does that mean everyone will have the same kind of feelings about the film when thinking about it? Hardly. But those who enjoy it have plenty to fondly remember here.
When doing a little bit of research, I think I may have found out something terribly troubling. See, the sequel to 'Every Which Way But Loose' was filmed shortly before I was born...in my hometown. For the life of me, I never could quite figure out why I was never told who my father was, for all these years. I was thinking, alright, the milk man, something shameful and embarrassing like that, but the pieces to the puzzle never fit. No, I'm not about to say Clint Eastwood is my daddy, because there isn't enough liquor in the universe to have made that happen, even if we had something in common: he played a man with no name, and I wasn't named until my tenth birthday. Actually, when I saw that the "actor" portraying Clyde was in town around that time, suddenly it made sense why I was kept in a cage all those years, why I have such weird hair issues.
Alright, that's really not true...that I know of, but 'Any Which Way You Can' was filmed in part here in nasty ol' Bakersfield, that part isn't conjecture in the least. And it's a fitting film to represent this city. I mean, we have a sequel that's the followup to a hair brained yet extremely fun and interesting tale of a man and his orangutan, and the jokes absolutely suck, the action is far too exaggerated, the drama is lacking, and animals date rape other animals. Literally, attempting to drug, abduct, and rape the hell out of them. Ahh....Bakersfield.
It's been two months since the events in 'Every Which Way But Loose,' and Philo Beddoe is still all shook up over his run-in with Lynn Halsey Taylor. He's decided to retire from bare knuckle boxing matches, to live a quieter, simpler life. But the man with more knuckles than brain cells gets dragged in and committed to one more fight, against a fighting legend named Jack Wilson (William Smith), who has left a few men in the morgue. With his troupe of loyal sidekicks by his side, the Black Widow biker gang still on his ass, and a group of fancy suit wearing mobsters threatening to end his life, Beddoe is going to do what he does best: kick some ass, and take some names.
'Any Which Way You Can' isn't a good film. Sure, the door was left wide open for a sequel, especially the way the romantic story line of 'Every Which Way You Can' left off, but every opportunity here is wasted. Clyde becomes just a bit less magical, with far too many "right turn, Clyde" gags, poop gags, and rape gags. Seriously, rape. The original featured some pretty funky animal booty call themes, but this time, we literally see Beddoe give his furry companion a syringe loaded with sleepy juice to help score him a lady. Even the final joke of the film is off-putting, with Clyde immediately reaching for the same syringe when he shows interest in a future mate...this one human. But, scary as it may be, Clyde's turn to sex offender territory isn't the oddest bit of "love" in the film.
See, Lynn Halsey-Taylor didn't just break Beddoe's heart in the original; she tore it out, stabbed it a few times, threw it in the gutter, and left it to get eaten by wild animals. This tough guy is still recovering from it. When he accidentally runs into his former flame, although he still shows signs of holding a grudge, he lets bygones be bygones, and, for no apparent reason, the country singer down on her luck now wants to grapple onto Beddoe like he were a winning lottery ticket. This...this isn't a believable relationship. It's dysfunctional, more so than the odd tandem of Clyde and his nemesis, "Ma" Boggs.
The menace in the film, the mafioso threat, it's done so poorly that even they come off as being as incompetent as the Black Widow gang. The friendship/peculiar courtship between Bedoe and Wilson is also bizarre, as the supposedly scary, vicious man is just another Beddoe, really. The whole thing seems thrown together over a weekend watching the original film on quaaludes. It's more two toned than this review...I mean, anything else Eastwood has ever starred in, it seems. It's an obvious cash-in attempt, and a poor one at that, struggling to find and maintain what made the original so watchable, so darned ridiculously fun. When even the most awesome film orangutan doesn't quite work, you know the film is a stinker, and hoo boy does 'Any Which Way You Can' stink. You may want to avoid it any which way you can.
'Every Which Way But Loose' Movie Score: 3/5
'Any Which Way You Can' Movie Score: 2.5/5
The Disc: Vital Stats
Don't you just love the ol' forced double dip? Warner released 'Every Which Way You Can' in late 2008, but never released 'Any Which Way You Can' until now...with a copy of the original as a double feature. Anyone interested in 'Any' already bought 'Every.' This just isn't fair.
Thankfully, Warner doesn't do the most repulsive thing on the format: 2 films, 1 disc (no cups), reutilizing the exact same disc from the original release, just with different disc art (which may be the same as the second pressings of the film, which featured alternate artwork). Both films are on Region A/B/C BD25 discs. There is no packaging gimmicks, and, thankfully, no hideously ugly grayish spine like other Warner Bros. double features have had in the past.
'Every Which Way But Loose' arrives on Blu-ray with a VC-1 encode at 1080p that does the film about as much justice as possible without artificially tinkering and ruining the video.
The opening credits give quite a scare, as there's a grain onslaught for the record books on display, coupled with some dirt thrown in for good measure. When the titles end, the picture immediately steps it up a notch, with the grain level dropping down to a minimum, and dirt cleaning up to the point that it is never a distraction, nor are the few scratches on the print.
Detail levels are never all that strong, but the picture is certainly clean, free from any artifacting issues, with no real issues with banding, edge enhancement, DNR, or aliasing to report. Skin tones are natural through most of the film, while outdoor sequences benefit with a bevy of brighter colors on the palette. Blacks are strong, with nice, but nowhere near spectacular, shadow delineation.
There's some grain spikes here and there, and a few other shots that have a purplish/red skin tone and a complete lack of real detail, but those shots are few and far between. All in all, the video for 'Every Which Way But Loose' is very respectable, and is quite solid for the age of the film.
The 1.85:1 framed, 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode provided 'Any Which Way You Can' is a real solid step up from the original, which was released almost three full years before this double feature gave us our first chance at owning the second part of the story. Dirt can be a little troublesome in the title sequence, and a few times here and there, with bigger chunks rather than smaller splatters, but for the most part, the picture looks quite clean. Detail levels are really quite solid, even if textures are somewhat less than splendid, while colors are mighty bold and powerful.
This film has some horrifically bad establishing shots, which aren't so much an issue, but some slight random softness, occasional picture flatness, and a few apparent grain freezes keep this from being a top notch catalog title. It's good, mind you, and it's much nicer looking than the original even with its problems, as they're either minor or none-too-frequent. This disc is a sign of a catalog going in the right direction, even if it isn't drastically.
'Every Which Way But Loose' Video Score: 3/5
'Any Which Way You Can' Video Score: 3.5/5
'Every Which Way But Loose' defaults to a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and since this is a Warner disc, automatically begins play on this track. Keep this in mind, and be sure to press the audio toggle on your remote, or through the menu, to get the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. Even with lossless, there isn't much here to hear.
The original recording for the film is in mono, so it's tough to expect all that much from surrounds in this lossless track. Motion effects are rarely in effect, though bikes and cars pass through the front channels nicely. Localized audio in the rears is a no go.
Ambiance mostly comes from the front speakers, though a few sequences (the fights) surround you with noise from the crowd chanting on the brawl, though it is hardly as active as one would imagine a fight to be. Music stays in the front for the most part, though Taylor's music seemed to hit the rears stronger than any other bit of music. There is also the tiniest bit of bass in these sequences, and that's practically it for the film in terms of LFE use. Not even the Chevrolet pickup that is in nearly every scene in the film has a bass rumble, nor do the roars of the bike army. Just the music, and a certain old woman's shotgun.
Dialogue is where things fall apart. The words to the film are often overpowered by the light soundtrack or ambient effects, drowning out words both spoken and yelled. Some dialogue is muffled, and not just from other effects, with some distortion evident at times as well. This track is just problematic.
Color me shocked. While 'Every Which Way But Loose' also featured a lossless audio track, it didn't come close to matching what's on display with its sequel, as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds better than most 1980 films I've ever heard. Sure, there's a distinct lack of bass in the soundtrack, which can be slightly upsetting, but every single punch has a little thump behind it, vehicles and noises constantly locate in one channel or another, with proper directionality, and there isn't a prioritization issue to be heard. Rears get a ridiculous amount of activity, with lots of random ambience, even if it can fade out prematurely. Dynamics can be a bit questionable at times, but all things considered, 'Any Which Way You Can' is a solid effort from Warner in the audio department, worthy of the praise it's getting here.
'Every Which Way But Loose' Audio Score: 2/5
'Any Which Way You Can' Audio Score: 3.5/5
The sole extra on either disc is a Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min) for 'Any Which Way But Loose,' which is really all sorts of awful. I mean, it's nice to get bleeping in a trailer, that's kinda classic, but this makes the film look even campier than it is, and that takes talent. The narration, lordy.
'Every Which Way But Loose' Extras Score: 0/5
'Any Which Way You Can' Extras Score: .5/5
I'm no fan of forced double dips. If you wanted 'Any Which Way You Can,' you already surely bought 'Every Which Way But Loose' sometime in the last three some odd years. But... here it is again, same as before. These films are fun, but definitely aren't even, with the second nowhere close to rivaling the original. There's plenty of laughs, and action, but Clyde turns from a funny monkey to a sex offender in no time flat. The new disc in this set fares much better than the old one, so it definitely makes this set worth checking out, even with no features. It's just a shame that a part of the price here is just redundant.