Release Date: July 19, 1991
Starring: Ethan Randall (Doyle), Jo Beth
Williams (Natalie) & Ed O'
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Peter Faiman
Producer: John Hughes & Richard Vane
Writer: John Hughes
Address Comments To:Mr. Barry Diller
20th Century Fox
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
It all begins when Dutch, the boyfriend of Doyle's mother, Natalie, amiably offers to drive the youngster home for Thanksgiving break. Filled with rage over the divorce of his parents, Doyle arrogantly responds to Dutch's invitation with a fierce karate chop, several blows to the stomach and head, and threats of retribution. Unable to get his peaceful cooperation, Dutch binds Doyle to a hockey stick and throws him in the back seat. Thus begins their seemingly endless road trip from Georgia to Chicago.
Attempting to reform Doyle's attitude by immersing him in manly activities and exposing him to sexual and scatological humor, Dutch purchases some nudie playing cards and fireworks which he lights on the side of the road, even placing a Roman Candle suggestively between his legs at one point. When Doyle insults him one time too many, Dutch abandons the adolescent by the wayside, forcing him to trek through the snowy night to the nearest motel.
Miles down the road, Dutch checks into a sleazy motel. When Doyle finally trudges into the motel, Dutch entertains him with the nude playing cards. Later that evening, Doyle parks Dutch's car on the highway where it is hit by a 16-wheeler truck. "I think this makes us even," says Doyle, smirking with revenge. The next morning, Dutch enjoys a flapjack breakfast, as Doyle looks on hungrily.
Next, they hitch a ride from two prostitutes just back from New Orleans' "House Whore's Convention." When Dutch falls asleep in the front seat, the driver steals his wallet and tries to pry his gold ring loose from his finger, clumsily squirting vaginal creme in his mouth.
Meanwhile, Doyle sits in the back seat discussing his problems with the other harlot. For the first time, he begins to understand his parents' divorce from his mother's perspective.
Stopping at a gas station, however, the prostitutes drive off, leaving Doyle and Dutch to fend for themselves. They attempt to get another ride but are beaten up by two security guards.
Finally, Dutch and Doyle end up at a shelter, where they enjoy a warm meal and fellowship with the homeless. In the film's most heart-warming scene, Doyle looks upon his food with gratitude, setting his silverware in place and cleaning his hands with a moist toilette. Seated next to Doyle is a poverty-stricken, six-year-old black girl. When she attempts to take his bread, Doyle hesitates but eventually shares it with her. His act of selflessness opens up the door of his heart and an opportunity for him to talk to the girl's mother. The mother tells Doyle that she has hope, despite her husband's unemployment and losing their home. Reflecting on her words, Doyle tearfully wishes he could see his mother again. Uniquely, this woman and Doyle subtly express the truth of Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."
The next day, the woman's husband drives Doyle and Dutch to their final destination, his mother's mansion. Glad to be home, Dutch tells the couple to phone him Monday about a job at his construction company.
DUTCH resounds the biblical truth of Acts 20:35c: "It is more blessed to give than receive." At first, Doyle's bitterness and resentment poisons every aspect of his being. It keeps him from growing and appreciating life (Hebrews 12:15, Proverbs 14:10 and Acts 8:23). His outlook changes when he humbly gives of himself, sharing his bread with the little girl.
Reflecting on the overall message of DUTCH, its themes of giving and hope are buried under obscene language, spiteful revenge, lewd behavior, and scatological humor. In sync with the politically correct anti-male attitude of Hollywood, Doyle's father is portrayed as an insensitive buffoon. Of course, there are fathers just like that, but it would be refreshing if Hollywood encouraged the good once in awhile by building up the family instead of continually denigrating it by undermining paternal relationships.
Also, violence is presented as the first method of resolving conflicts, not discussion, reason, love, dialogue, compromise, or any of the more biblical methods of conflict resolution. Thus, when Dutch has a beef with Doyle's father, he hits him in the head first, almost knocking him out, and then orders him to do what Dutch wants. This is not only a bad role model for teenagers (at whom this movie is aimed), but it is also out of place in this character study where a reasoned discussion with the father would have sufficed.
The quality of this movie should also be called into question, as it frequently contains shaky, murky footage. In some scenes, it appears that the camera wasn't held steady. Moviegoers have come to expect more from producer John Hughes, whose credits include HOME ALONE and PRETTY IN PINK. Unfortunately, DUTCH is very disappointing.