Review: EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE (1978)

By Darin Skaggs

No worries guys, you can stop searching. I found it. I found the worst movie ever made. And of course that is James Fargo’s Every Which Way But Loose. This is a movie that takes all the popular ways of storytelling and adds them together which makes a messy, maddening and somehow dull movie.

In Every Which Way, Clint Eastwood stars as Philo Beddoe, a man good at many a tasks, but most of his skills come from fist fighting. Man is he a good fist fighter, sometimes fighting more than one person at a time. He meets Lynn Halsey-Taylor, a country singer, played by Sondra Locke. They hit it off, at least I assume they do, it is not performed that way. A few days after meeting and some awkward dates Lynn leaves a note that she had to skip town. Philo, love struck or lust struck or bored, takes off after her on a road trip joined by his friend Orville played by Geoffrey Lewis. On the way to this plot point Philo angers a couple of men who belong to a gang of Neo-Nazis who end up hunting him as well as good cop, bad cop duo that is also chasing him at the same time. There are some side stories where Orville finds love and Ruth Gordon, who plays Orville’s mother, tries to get her driver’s license.

That is not all the plot points in the film though, during the entire picture there is Philo’s buddy Clyde who joins him for all the misadventures. Clyde is played by an orangutan. Yep, that’s right an orangutan is running around this already too full flick and the thing is you could take Clyde out and this movie is exactly the same except Clyde doesn’t try to kill Orville for a half can of beer. This is a movie that throws so many ideas, if you could call them that and attempts to mix them together well. The creators are trying to relate to its audience. You can almost see the screenwriter think “Well America is great so let’s make Clint beat up Nazi’s. But American cops are corrupt so let him take down a cop as well. Also love stinks so let a love story end with a not so happy ending.” It has the anger of other movies at the time like The Deer Hunter or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but doesn’t have the guts to take these topics on in a serious way. It just wants to be a goofy celebration of the American every man. And then it adds an animal because, you know, people like animals.

This is a change of pace for Eastwood, he plays a charming guy, he is tough beating up people after being yelled at for eating their food, but he is also really nice to this Lynn girl and Clyde. It is clear that Eastwood does not care and gives a “just read my lines and take my paycheck” performance. No one is really all in, even Ruth Gordon who plays one of the first old people who curse a lot characters, no one really seems to care about the film. This film is full, it could have taken one of the many plots and made a half decent film instead it takes too much on and doesn’t try to mix them all too well.

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