Forgotten Action Cinema: Dudes

“Decline of the Western Civilization” director Penelope Spheeris, while talented, has certainly made some very strange choices during the early stages of her career. And while the filmmaker’s pseudo-cool 1987 revenge saga “Dudes” isn’t nearly as hokey as, say, “Hollywood Vice Squad”, it does, at times, reek of slightly moldly cheese. Jon Cryer and Daniel Roebuck star as a pair of New York City punks who helplessly watch their friend die at the hands of a murderous gang of racist hillbillies during their cross-country trip to sunny California. The story — which is essentially a punk rock retelling of “Easy Rider” — isn’t overly complicated or complex, nor does it strive to be. Once you strip away the snake juice-fueled dream sequence, the cornball cowboy references, and the decidedly pointless inclusion of minor 80’s eye candy Catherine Mary Stewart, all you’ve got is a paint-by-numbers road movie with goofy gunplay and a soundtrack that’s still relevant today. That said, the film shouldn’t be taken seriously, even during those brief moments when Spheeris veers off course into unnecessary melodrama. Cryer and Roebuck, meanwhile, aren’t particularly convincing as a pair of gun-slinging rebels, though this is arguably one of the picture’s most charming elements. “Dudes” might be uneven, a tad sloppy, and completely illogical. but it’s a great 80’s movie that probably deserves your attention. As soon as someone puts this thing on DVD, anyway.