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Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd in Dragnet

"Dragnet" is a movie for those who grew up watching the old TV series because unless you know certain things and characters a lot of the humour doesn't quite have the same impact. And so as someone who is a fan of both Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd but never seen a single episode of "Dragnet" the TV series it puts me in many ways at a distinct disadvantage. And because of this whilst "Dragnet" is a fun movie it is only fun because of the comedy of Hanks and Aykroyd rather than for any of the in-jokes that those who know the series will pick up on.

With L.A. being plagued by a series of strange robberies from a Lion having it's mane stolen through to a warehouse full of BAIT magazines being stolen Sergeant Joe Friday (Dan Aykroyd - Ghostbusters) is assigned the case with new partner Det. Pep Streebek (Tom Hanks - Every Time We Say Goodbye). They soon discover that all these thefts, along with those of a large snake and gallons of chemicals have one thing in common and that is an organization called PAGAN are behind them. It's not going to be an easy job to solve the crime especially when it becomes personal when PAGAN try to sacrifice the Virgin Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul - American Flyers), but some how Friday and Streebek will get the job done.

Alexandra Paul as the virgin Connie Swail in Dragnet

So as someone who's never seen a single episode of "Dragnet" the actual storyline under whelmed me. You may have the fun intro of establishing Joe Friday as a do right sergeant and his new partner, the more easy going Det. Pep Streebek but after that it is your run of the mill comedy crime caper. That means we have a master criminal, plenty of bungling be it Friday and Streebek or the criminal's henchman and various moments of action leading to the big finale. Plus a bit of romance as the up right Friday rescues damsel in distress the virgin Connie Sail from the master criminal. In many ways it is seriously similar to a "Naked Gun" movie both in storyline and often humour.

But of course whilst there is a criminal caper "Dragnet" is all about the comedy and this is the sticking point. For those who know the old TV series there are plenty of in jokes and I presume that Aykroyd's Joe Friday is very similar to his character's Uncle from the show. But then for those like me who may only recognize the theme music none of these in jokes work and that leaves you with a lot of obvious humour seen in various other crime capers from comedy partnerships, crazy car chases and some innuendo. It is amusing but I am sure much more amusing for those who have fond memories and who know that Harry Morgan's Bill Gannon was in the 1960s series.

Never the less one thing is for sure and whether you get the in jokes or not Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd work brilliantly together. The emotionless, by the book stiffness which Aykroyd gives Joe Friday is simply comical; from the way he walks to the way he speaks it is simply funny. And then at the other end of the scale you have the laid back charm of Tom Hanks as Pep Streebek, and for those who have only seen Hanks do drama should watch "Dragnet" to see what a great comic actor he was with brilliant timing. Add to that Harry Morgan as their cliche angry captain, Alexandra Paul as the virgin Connie Sail and Christopher Plummer as the villainous Reverend Jonathan Whirley and there is a lot of fun going on.

What this all boils down to is that "Dragnet", whether you have seen any of the old shows or not, is a fun movie with Tom Hanks and Dank Aykroyd working well together. But unsurprisingly I am sure it is a lot more fun for those who grew up watch the old shows and get the added pleasure of all the in jokes.

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