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Taking Care of Business
1989 - R - Mins.
Director: Arthur Hiller
Starring: James Belushi, Charles Grodin, Anne DeSalvo, Mako, Veronica Hamel
Review by: John Ulmer
A buddy movie is only as good as its buddies -- Gibson and Glover, Hoffman and Cruise, Milo and Otis, Hanks and Hooch. But there is one more element a buddy movie needs: A script. "Taking Care of Business" apparently forgot about the script and went straight on to its business.

Jim Belushi and Charles Grodin are the film's main stars. They've both been in buddy films before. Belushi was in "K-9," and Grodin was in "Midnight Run" with Robert De Niro, the better of the two (by far). So it's more than generous to say they have had experience with these kinds of films. So why, oh, why didn't they realize what they were getting into when they signed onto this film?

Belushi is the messy one, a Chicago Cubs fan who escapes from his minimum-security prison to cheer his team on at the World Series. Grodin is the neat one, a Filofax-fixated adman who loses his precious date book on the way to shmooze a client in Los Angeles. You'll never guess who finds and attempts to return the daily planner to the Malibu address inside.

Belushi is a kind, sweet, gentle man, who just happens to be an excellent car thief. He drives over to Grodin's home in LA-style environments, to find no one home. But along the way he is mistaken for Grodin himself, and is given the good-life. Meanwhile, the real Grodin has been beaten up on his way to Malibu, drugged out and unconscious. But Belushi doesn't care, because he doesn't know Grodin, and why should he care if he has single-handedly taken his every identity? Directed by Arthur Hiller, "Taking Care of Business" is a "Trading Places"-story with new faces and a lesser script. It's not an awful film, it's not even a bad film, but it's not particularly original, entertaining nor exciting. Charles Grodin, who I have always enjoyed on-screen, really ruined his own career. I really like the guy, but when he had fame, he went for the cheap films. I know he said he never really liked acting a whole lot, but'd think that he would at least try to go for something good now and then.

"Taking Care of Business" isn't bad. But it's not nearly as good as it should have been. The script was forgotten and the actors came up with material gags along the way. Proof of this is how no one realized the audience could never care for these apparently brick-like, shallow, one-dimensional figures. Jim Belushi is supposed to be a sweet guy, but he's a car thief and God-knows what else. Things like this make the audience confused: Are we supposed to be caring for these characters as events in their lives roll out on screen in humorous ways, are we supposed to identify with them, or are they there simply as excuses for cheap gags? Personally, I could go another lifetime without trying to find out.
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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