Blu-ray Review: Doctor Detroit

The death of John Belushi made people question the future of Dan Aykroyd. The duo were inseparable in Hollywood movies as far as Dan’s career went. John and Dan had made 1941, The Blues Brothers and Neighbors. Could Dan really make a movie without John being the driving force? Most of the people who had that uncertainty never really watching Saturday Night Live. Most of Dan’s work on the show wasn’t working with John. They were pals and Blues Brothers, but they weren’t a constant buddy act like Franken and Davis. Eric Idle pointed out that Dan was the one member of SNL that could have fit in with Monty Python because he got deep into a character. Still there were reservations when it was announced that Dan was going to headline a comedy. Doctor Detroit allowed Dan to play a character forced to transform or be shot down.

Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd) is a nerdy professor working at a college that’s having a tough time. Smooth Walker (WKRP‘s Howard Hesseman) is a pimp with a small stable of ladies and a large squeeze from Mother (Switchblade Sisters‘ Kate Murtagh). She controls the prostitution racket in Chicago and wants her money now. Thanks to a twist of speedwalking fate, Smooth claims Skridlow is a pimp called Doctor Detroit that’s hijacking his stable. After a night of partying with the four ladies (Lynn Whitfield, Fran Drescher, Lydia Lei and Donna Dixon), he wakes up with a second job of being a gentleman of leisure. This could be easy money except Mother wants to put Doctor Detroit out of business. Can this nebbish professor protect the four ladies in his car from the menacing mother? And can he put on the moves that live up to having James Brown show up at your Pimp of Chicago Coronation?

The early ’80s saw quite a few films about white guys accidentally becoming pimps including Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton in Night Shift and Tom Cruise in Risky Business. The films were far from the reality of both the pimp game and the life of a prostitute in the city. Doctor Detroit ensures it’s a comedy by not having any minorities running this vice game. T. K. Carter (John Carpenter’s The Thing) is Smooth’s driver and Skridlow’s mentor. This casting does allow you to see the absurdity instead of debate the pros and cons of legalizing prostitution. Although Fran Drescher comes off as rather convincing as a lady of the night instead of pondering who would get turned on by hooking up with The Nanny.

There was a rumor that Belushi was supposed to star in the film with Dan, but there’s no role in the film that screams out “this was John’s slot.” This isn’t like a lame Adam Sandler film where you know Kevin James is filling in for Chris Farley. Although there’s a touch of John in Dan Aykroyd’s over the top physicality as the good doctor. Plus setting the action in Chicago brings it back to the land that gave us Belushi. Doctor Detroit is goofy ’80s comedy that showed Dan Aykroyd could work with anyone especially himself.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution beings out the geekiness of speedwalking. The audio is DTS-MA 5.1. The levels are great when James Brown hits the stand and the fight between mother and the doctor. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with director Michael Pressman and pop culture historian Russell Dyball. The director reflects how the original base material was more pimpy. Pressman got the gig after Some Kind of Hero with Richard Pryor. Pressman also helmed The Great Texas Dynamite Chase, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. They had a lot of rewrite screenwriters.

Interview with Director Michael Pressman (24:35) remembers the film was an enjoyable process. He points out the prostitution angle was played more fantasy. He talks about Dan Aykroyd didn’t talk much about the passing of John Belushi. He was there to make his film. Although he did have time to get to know Donna Dixon. Dan and her married.

Radio Free Detroit: Inside the Doctor Detroit Audio Press Kit (24:29) is the record that you could play on the radio with interviews. They set it up so you insert your own DJ into the interview so they can enjoy the press junket without leaving the station.

Theatrical Trailers (3:49) has Dan Aykroyd telling the audience that VCRs keep you hostage in your apartment. He even makes a few news scenes in tribute to other cinematic doctors. The film calls the gals “Ladies in distress” that he must defend. The pimping is undersold.

TV Spots (1:01) promises a lot of dancing and James Brown funky time.

Radio Spots (4:14) has Dan Aykroyd telling you to make an appointment with the doctor. This is the most exciting news of the day.

Photo Gallery (8:18) is a montage of behind the scenes, press pics and promotional items.

Shout! Factory presents Doctor Detroit. Directed by: Robert Pressman. Screenplay by: Bruce Jay Friedman, Carl Gottlieb & Robert Boris. Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, James Brown, T. K. Carter, Donna Dixon and Fran Drescher. Rated: R. Running Time: 89 minutes. Released: April 24, 2018.

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