Retro Review: ‘Dudes’
The story model provided by the Western is very specific to a bygone era, but that has not stopped filmmakers from applying the influences of that genre into more modern settings. Such is the case for the 1987 action/comedy for the punk rock crowd, Dudes. This cult classic follows the surviving members of a New York-based punk band as they seek to get revenge for the murder of their bandmate. The clashing of two rockers from city and the people of the rural American Southwest makes for a strangely entertaining flick.
Grant, Biscuit, and Milo decide they have had enough of not making it in the New York music scene and the bright lights of Hollywood is where they belong. Along the way they run across a gang of marauders who rob them and murder Milo. When it becomes clear the law is not going to do anything to bring these criminals to justice Grant and Biscuit take things into their own hands. Finding themselves literally guided by the spirits of the those who tamed the American West (yes it is as weird as it sounds) they toughen up and set out on the warpath.
To be perfectly blunt, Dudes is a very strange movie. Director Penelope Spheeris is given the unenviable task of putting a bunch of spikey haired, leather clad rockers into a completely new setting where they are most definitely out of place. But she approaches the task with great gusto, not shying away from story elements like; ghosts, an Elvis impersonator, and a roving band of outlaws. In fact if you look past the protagonists who do not fit the backdrop at all, Dudes flows like a standard Western for the most part. The fact that the cast is strangely endearing will keep the audience rooting for them throughout their journey. 80’s era Jon Cryer brings his natural likability to the lead role, Daniel Roebuck is a solid sidekick, and legendary bassist Flea does his part to convince people he’s the heart of the team during his limited role. Dudes is the kind of movie for people who like weird movies, and it does not pretend to be anything other than that.