Is it possible that the unblemished integrity of Tom Hanks is the only thing standing between us and total mental collapse? If he were to be caught up in any #MeToo-type revelations, or secret racist affiliations were revealed, I don’t know how we’d cope. From sea to shining sea, he is not just admired but beloved. So beloved, in fact, that the love may even outpace the admiration – perhaps because his particular talent is, by its very nature, almost invisible.
Hanks is the man you go to when you want unshowy relatability. When your movie will live or die by the success of audiences investing everything in the average-looking guy rather than being dazzled by a star and his jawline. When you want the ordinary made compelling, when you want a man who can bring all the deepest emotions to life in the smallest ways (his technique is a miracle of compression), you want Hanks.
Those are some big shoes to fill. You have to pity the actor who finds himself in any position where comparisons are likely, and for Josh Peck they are inevitable. In effect, he plays Hanks’s son in the new Disney+ sequel to the 1989 classic of Hanks’s early comedy years, Turner & Hooch (Hollywood always starts you off in comedy if you haven’t got the jawline). If you remember, the original buddy-cop tale centred on police investigator Scott Turner (Hanks) reluctantly taking in his friend Amos’s dog Hooch (Beasley the dog) after Amos was killed for voicing his suspicions to Turner about a local crime lord.
Hound-human rambunctiousness ensued, with Hooch helping his new owner loosen up, learn to love and, almost as importantly, solve the case. The dog also helps him catch the criminal but – well, the ending is best not spoken of. It’s part of the unholy childhood trinity with ET and Charlotte’s Web. I suspect it will not be replicated in the TV series, so let us not dwell but move on.
Peck is rookie US marshal Scotty Turner, a neat freak as unsuited to taking in a cavorting, drooling mutt as his father was. So, naturally, when his father dies his sister turns up with the cavorting, drooling mutt that belonged to Dad and whom he has bequeathed to Scotty. Cue the traditional set pieces: Hooch gets shut in the kitchen and covered in Scotty’s protein powder. Hooch wakes Scotty up the next day by licking his face. Hooch has destroyed the apartment overnight.
Point of order: we are told that Scott Sr adopted this particular Hooch and that he is the dog who most reminded him of his first companion. But the film left us with puppies fathered by the original Hooch (unless Camille was two-timing him with another dogue de bordeaux). Why is this new Hooch not a descendant? Who thought it would be more narratively or emotionally satisfying to make him unrelated to the original? I need answers.
From there we lollop to all the other expected set pieces and plot points. Turner Jr is forced to take the dog to work, where he is meant to be protecting a member of a bank heist gang who is due to testify against the other robbers. Until, that is, Turner’s charge is kidnapped, to the fury of his boss (Anthony Ruivivar). Turner meets attractive dog trainer Erica (she is attractive, I mean; she doesn’t just train attractive dogs, there’s legislation against that now) and is oblivious to her interest in him.
Hooch, with his infallible instincts for dishonesty (“People see what they want to see!” says Erica. “Whereas dogs just see what’s there!”), plus superior power of smell and ability to disarm gunmen in warehouses, helps Turner identify the kidnappers, find the witness and save the day. Turner’s furious boss is pleased with him again and makes Turner and Hooch an official police unit. Just like in real life.
The series does exactly what you would expect and exactly as well. There is gunfire but no killing. There are bad guys but no evil. There are homages to the original but nothing to impede your enjoyment of the new version. There is nonsense, but it’s harmless. There are tearjerking bits, as when Scotty reads a letter from his late dad, that don’t actually jerk any tears because – well, it’s a show about a man and his drooling dog, and superficial emotions are the order of the day. Rinse and repeat for the remaining 11 episodes, plus a season arc about a big case Scott Sr was working on secretly when he died from an apparent heart attack.
It’s fine. And it is always good to see dogs getting work. Though, babe, you’re not credited anywhere. You need to bark at your agent about that.