Loose Cannons (1990 film)

Loose Cannons

DVD poster
Directed by Bob Clark
Produced by Aaron Spelling
Alan Griesman
Written by Richard Christian Matheson
Richard Matheson
Bob Clark
Music by Paul Zaza
Cinematography Reginald Morris
Edited by Stan Cole
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • February 9, 1990 (1990-02-09)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $5,585,154[1]

Loose Cannons is a 1990 comedy film, written by Richard Matheson, Richard Christian Matheson and Bob Clark, who also directed the film. The film is about a hard-nosed cop who is teamed up with a detective with multiple-personality disorder to uncover a long-lost Nazi sex tape, featuring Adolf Hitler, which would jeopardize the political future of the German chancellor-elect.

The film stars Dan Aykroyd, Gene Hackman, and Dom DeLuise. The theme song features vocals by Katey Sagal and Aykroyd. The film was released by Tri-Star Pictures on February 9, 1990 and, upon its release, was a critical and financial disaster, bringing in only $5.5 million worldwide on a $15 million budget.


A film is found that features young German officer Kirk Von Metz (Robert Prosky) sleeping with Adolf Hitler. Years later, Von Metz is running for chancellor of West Germany and arranges for the murder of anyone who has seen the film. The killings take place in the Washington D.C. area, and Metropolitan Police officers MacArthur Stern (Gene Hackman) and Ellis Fielding (Dan Aykroyd) are sent to investigate the crimes.

Ellis suffers from a multiple personality disorder, which is aggravated when he is confronted with violence. This results in several episodes where he blacks out and assumes the personalities of popular culture characters, including Popeye, Captain Kirk and the Road Runner.

"Mac," as he's called, and Ellis attempt to track down the film through pornographer Harry "The Hippo" Gutterman (Dom DeLuise), who informs them that to do so they need to get to New York City. They decide to take a train, but first must evade a team of FBI agents led by Bob Smiley (Ronny Cox), whose orders are to prevent any embarrassment to Von Metz by intercepting the film before it reaches the public domain. They all meet up at Washington's Union Station, where Mac and Ellis trick Smiley and his team into boarding the New York-bound train they originally intended to take, while they jump off and hop onto one on the opposite track bound for Cleveland instead. While on board that train, Mac notices another undercover team that has been trailing them, which, as it turns out, is led by Rebecca "Riva" Lowengrin (Nancy Travis), a Mossad agent assigned to the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C..

After surviving a helicopter attack on the train by Nazi sympathizers, Mac, Ellis and Gutterman jump off a bridge into a river and eventually make their way to New York. Mac finds the film in a locker on one of the upper levels of Grand Central Station and, during an exchange of gunfire with more Nazis, throws it to Riva, who has just arrived on the Main Concourse below. It is screened that same evening during a speech that Von Metz delivers. Mac, Ellis and Gutterman all suffer gunshot wounds and, as the movie ends, are seen recuperating in the same hospital. Mac jokes to Ellis that he is converting to Judaism that evening in order to move to Israel the next day to join the Mossad, but is uncomfortable about undergoing circumcision.



Box office

The film was released on February 9, 1990 and grossed $2,239,830 on its opening weekend, ranking #5 at the box office. Its widest release was 1,214 theaters. At the end of its run, Loose Cannons grossed $5,585,154 worldwide. On a budget of $15 million, the film ended up a box office flop.[2]

Critical response

Loose Cannons received universally negative reviews from critics, and has been declared one of the worst films in the early 1990s. It currently has a rare 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 17 reviews.[3] Vincent Canby, in his review of the film for The New York Times, stated: "Mr. Hackman and Mr. Aykroyd deserve much better. They really do. Each gives a thoroughly professional performance that is consistently undercut by the direction of Mr. Clark." [4] Variety stated that "Dan Aykroyd's dexterous multipersonality schtick is the only redeeming feature of this chase-heavy comedy."[5] Hal Hinson commented that "Hackman mostly just stands around watching Aykroyd run through his exertions with the look of a man who has something unspeakable on the sole of his shoe" in his review for The Washington Post.[6] Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film a "Two Thumbs Down" vote on their TV show, and called it "the cop-buddy comedy that hits new lows in an undisputed field."[7][8]

In May 2013, Calgary Police investigated after footage from the film was found in a landfill by a worker, who mistook it for evidence of an actual murder. It was later noticed that Aykroyd was in the frame, and the police contacted his agent who, after some searching, stated that it was a section from this movie. TMZ reported that after the incident Aykroyd said, "The movie should have been left in the landfill where it belongs."[9]


  1. "Loose Cannons (1990)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  2. "Loose Cannons (1990) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. "Loose Cannons - Rotten Tomatoes".
  4. "Hackman and Aykroyd in 'Loose Cannons' Vincent Canby, The New York Times," February 9, 1990
  5. Variety," February 9, 1990
  6. Hal Hinson, The Washington Post", February 9, 1990
  7. "Siskel & Ebert 1990-Loose Cannons, Sweetie (2of3) - YouTube". YouTube.com. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  8. "Siskel & Ebert 1990-The White Girl, Recap, End Credits (3of3) - YouTube". YouTube.com. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  9. "DAN AYKROYD HOMICIDE CASE Opened Over Crappy Movie". TMZ.com. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
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