KUFFS (1992) Dir. Bruce A. Evans
1992 seemed like a really good year for Christian Slater, who was just entering the peak of his career after starring roles in Heathers, Pump Up the Volume, Young Guns II, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Mobsters. KUFFS wasn’t just a movie starring Christian Slater. It was a “Christian Slater vehicle”. Not a lot of actors get that distinction. It suggests that sometime during the conception of this film, somebody actually said, “Only Christian Slater can play this role!” And you know what? It’s true. Only Christian Slater could have played that role. Or maybe a young Jack Nicholson.
Knowing that the movie was specifically written with Christian Slater in mind, it might already seem awkward that the screenplay probably went something like this:
CHRISTIAN SLATER dancing TOPLESS to the musical stylings of Timbuk3 and their retro (even by today’s “90’s” standards), smash hit, Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades).
Shirtless Christian Slater is wearing shades. He is going to continue dancing sans a shirt for the length of the ENTIRE song.
A teenaged MILLA JOVOVICH enters the frame dancing in her UNDIES. She too is wearing shades.
Their future seems bright. They gotta wear shades.
That is the introduction to high school dropout George Kuffs, age 21. His girlfriend, Maya has just told him that she is 2 weeks pregnant. As she walks to the other room to change the music, Kuffs breaks the fourth wall and reveals to us, the audience, his plan to break up with her. Revealing a self-awareness that his lazy, mooching, but ever so charming ways would not benefit both child and mother. Besides, who could possibly be attached to a wife and kid when you have “women to do, places to see.”?
At this point the movie actually begins and the filmmakers decide to remind us that this is an action movie with the following title scroll:
What follows is what was best described to me recently as “Beverly Hills Cop directed by John Hughes”. That is it in a nutshell. Kuffs inherits his older brother’s (Bruce Boxleitner) district after the senior Kuffs is gunned down by a killer named Kane (Leon Rippy). A killer that is so fucking goofy he wears a shirt with his face on it, while covering his actual face with a mask. Hilarious. Christian Slater becomes a cop instantly (it’s really easy!), in charge of a Patrol Special District, and stalks his brother’s killer with all the style of a white Axel Foley, complete with his very own Axel F-like theme song. Tony Goldwyn does a great turn as the cop that gets partnered up with Kuffs.
The questionable wardrobe worn by the bad guy is a great example of what this movie was trying to achieve with it’s uneven balance of violence and comedy. The killer is played straight and would actually be menacing in a normal action flick, yet dresses like a retard. Kuff’s continual destruction of everything from property to the fourth wall is entertaining enough for Christian Slater fans. Others can avoid this movie unless you actually like violence mixed with slapstick humor, complete with lame jokes and flat one-liners a la HUDSON HAWK (which is another guilty pleasure of mine).