BluRay/DVD Reviews

RYDER, P.I.

By • Jul 3rd, 2001 •

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(1986)
92 mins approx. 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Ryder P.I. – Damn, what a whack movie this is! This looks like a 1940s comedy made in the 1980s and released in the 21st century. Seriously, it seems as if it was made by a bunch of stand up comedians (while high on drugs, booze or Mountain Dew) who have never ever taken a screen writing course. That is both refreshing (you’ll sure never guess what the hell happens next) and confusing, as characters ranging from a runaway chimpanzee who thinks he’s a duck, to a Clint Eastwood look-a-like waving his 44 caliber magnum in all the wrong people’s faces, to Howard Stern’s big screen debut yelling “I work at a toilet bowl of a TV station,” while doing a network newscast. Even tricky Dick Nixon (Richard M. Dixon) shows up stashing reels of audiotape under his jacket while cheating on an entrance exam. There must be over a hundred assorted nuts, jerks, boobs and whacko characters stuffed into 90 minutes that literally defies you to find a normal person in the crowd.

In an era when movies like Tomb Raider and Mission Impossible confuse movie reviewers over a plot they are not able to follow, I can only imagine that a comedy detective plot as heavily convoluted as Ryder, P.I. will make most people say “Pass the peyote please, I need to trip now.” Yet inspite of the plot antics, this good natured, low budget movie with a likable cast of zanies (Comics Bob Nelson and Dave “the Walrus” Hawthorne star) will evoke Abbott and Costello comparisons, and succeeds in creating an amusing world of its own. And believe it or not, the plot actually does makes sense if you watch it more than once. (Warning: watching this more than once can cause dame brammage.) Your kids will love it and almost insist on multiple viewings as the level of stupidity of the two leads is so bottomless that it will make the banter of Gilligan and the Skipper look like Shakespeare. For instance, detective Sky Ryder (Hawthorne) reassures his noodle brained partner Eppie (Nelson) after being forcibly ejected from a lunch room brawl they started over cat turds substituted for sausage links by saying “Don’t worry Eppie, I’ve been thrown out of better places than this!” Dufus faced Eppie responds with an insipid “Not me.”

Yes, there is a sexy girlfriend “Valerie” (Frances Raines) who lights up the screen with a girl-next-door brunette smile that could melt a snowfall, and of course, she gets in constant danger allowing the incompetent heroes to save the day inspite of never doing anything at all right. Seriously, never one thing right.

Released in 1986 in New York metro area movie houses and later on various VHS tape releases, Ryder, P.I. has finally emerged on DVD to shine like it never did, even in the theaters, due to the producers having no budget for Dolby stereo for the prints. But on DVD the original score featuring Bond-esque and Beatle-esque songs, is now clear as a bell. The picture in 1:85 widescreen is good, but not a reference disk, as this was one of the first, perhaps THE first action movie ever shot on video and transferred to 35 mm film, eclipsing George Lucas by 17 years. The transfer from film is as good as it gets and is far more pleasing than Blair Witch’s DVD release. So between Howard Stern’s screen debut and tape to film pioneering, Ryder, P.I. may – if it’s lucky – someday rise to the level of cult status. But it will have to try hard. This isn’t your typical David Spade or Farley Brothers comedy we are fed today. This is the film equivalent of a beer festival as nearly 60 N.Y. comedians try to make a first feature loaded with machine guns, fist fights, cops and cocaine dealers. I can assure you that you won’t ever see another film like it.

But Is it funny? I think so, but then again, I’ve seen it over 150 times. I was one of the co-directors and a writer of the film. What’s that? The director isn’t supposed to review his own film? Oh go F#@k yourself! Why not? In Ryder, P.I land anything is possible. And yes, it is funny. And very silly. And stupid. Hell, it’s less than $15 on Amazon.com – go.


With 15 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate footage with Howard Stern.

Credits:
Directed by Karl Hosch and Chuck Walker. Produced by Karl Hosch. Director of Photography Phil Arfman. Music by Kevin Kelly.

Cast:
David Hawthorne,
Bob Nelson,
Frances Raines,
John Mulrooney,
Bob Woods,
Howard Stern.

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