Release Date: September 18th, 1987 (Toronto Film Festival)
Directed by: Penelope Spheeris
Written by: Randall Jahnson
Music by: Charles Bernstein
Cast: Jon Cryer, Catherine Mary Stewart, Daniel Roebuck, Flea, Lee Ving, Glenn Withrow
Vista Organization, 90 Minutes
“Look, Milo, we’re talking about real life here, okay? Real life is not California. Real life is a shit sandwich and every day you gotta take another bite.” – Grant
Dudes is a pretty cool movie for its time. It sees three teenage punk rockers from Queens go cross-country in an effort to make it to California and hopefully a new, better future.
However, along the way, while camping out in the desert of Arizona, the three teens are attacked by a gang of vicious rednecks and one of the boys is murdered and their stuff is then stolen.
The two surviving teens find the local cops to be useless and ultimately, decide to take down this gang by themselves. Along comes the local tough, hot chick that teaches them how to actually shoot a gun properly.
Now maybe the premise sounds a bit wonky but the story works well within the world that this film creates for itself. Sure, the movie is a comedy but it’s still got a lot of real drama and heart to it. I also think that Jon Cryer was the perfect guy to handle what was needed for the lead role. He’s good at comedy, can handle serious stuff and he’s likable as hell and can give a convincing performance with the right material.
I also really enjoyed Daniel Roebuck as his large, punk rock sidekick. While Roebuck looks like the more imposing of the two, I like that this movie’s plot doesn’t just run with that and it gives us something more realistic where the big punk rocker is more of a gentle giant.
Catherine Mary Stewart was perfect as the local girl. I’ve always loved seeing her ever since I first watched The Last Starfighter, as a kid. Here, she reminds me a lot of her tough girl role in Night of the Comet, which is my favorite role she’s ever played.
Additionally, you have two real musicians in this. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers plays the friend who is murdered by the gang while Lee Ving of Fear is the leader of the scumbag gang. Both of these guys brought their A-game to the picture and showed they had legitimate acting chops.
Dudes really is a western movie at its core. Being that it takes place in what was modern times when it was made doesn’t really matter, as it follows the beats of that genre. Maybe there are other punk rock neo-westerns out there but I don’t think I’ve seen any others and it’s kind of a cool mix now that I’ve seen it come together.
All that being said, I dug this movie quite a bit. It was well cast, the story was decent but made better by the performances and it leaves you pretty satisfied at the end.