Eastwood: Any Which Way You Can

As per usual, before beginning this retrospective I checked into IMDB for all the relevant facts and details I never pay any attention to. Five point seven. Five. Point. Seven. Is that what you people give Clint Eastwood and a monkey for defeating a terrifying group of Neo-Nazis?! For saving broken marriages?! For creating love and affection where there was only room for violence and hatred!!?? For getting distracted by boobies during a bare knuckle fist fight against a Marine officer?!?!?!?!?! What’s wrong with you people!!!??? Before I allow you any further, I want you all to go onto IMDB, type in Any Which Way You Can and give it 10/10.

I’ll just wait here.

Okay, now that we’ve established you actually want to read this retrospective, let’ go:

Any Which Way You Can picks up where Every Which Way But Loose left off and tells the story of one man and his chimp (even though its clearly an orang-utan). The man happens to be Clint Eastwood, who happens to be playing Philo, a bare-knuckle fist fighter, and the chimp, Clyde, is an expert mechanic and an accountant (seriously, 5.7 out of 10?!?!). I pretty much couldn’t ask for much more out of a film if I tried. Really, I’d happily take out all the action and just sit through two hours of this delightfully mismatched pair monkeying about on the scrap yard, but this film goes one step further and manages to make out some sort of Rocky-esque story line about a big, dangerous fight against a big, dangerous man and a love interest and a motorcycling Neo-Nazi gang who get covered in tar.

That pretty much is the bulk of the story, which from the word go sets itself up as being nothing more than a string of laugh-fuelled capers and off the wall situations. The title credits drive across the screen set to Clint Eastwood’s and Ray Charles’ interesting rendition of a lovely country song about the good old times sharing a round of cold ones on the ranch. It’s called Beers to You. Not ‘Here’s to you’, but Beers to You. Hahahahahahahahahah…! Dyageddit?! Clint and Ray certainly do, they sing each chorus with the same giggly tone of two eight year old schoolboys who’ve just replaced granddad’s hair piece with road-kill. Ah wigs, yes… more on them later.

I am well aware that over half a page into this retrospective I’ve really not said anything except “Clint and monkey hahaha” but that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say about it, aside from listing my top five things which Clyde the chimp does during the film, which I’ll do now:

1.       “Right turn, Clyde.”

2.       Clyde is Philo’s manager

3.       Clyde keeps a picture of a monkey from the zoo he has a crush on

4.       Clyde rescues Philo from a burning vehicle

5.       Clyde has his own theme song

6.       Clyde gives Philo tips on how to spice things up in the bedroom

I know that’s six but that last one was far too good not to include. I don’t think I’m even going to bother going into much detail about the plot or narrative or characters… we all know them from Every Which Way But Loose and they haven’t changed in the slightest, but that’s the absolute beauty of this film. It takes all the elements of its predecessor we so loved and gives them to us all over again, without being bogged down by technicalities like a story or character development. Clint as Philo is every bit the strong, silent sex-symbol. Those of you who have read my previous Eastwoods might have noticed I take a lot of interest in his first line, and this one’s a real classic: as the film begins, Philo is about to fight some tough guy marine who killed the last two people who fought him and is very big and scary etc etc. Clint’s perspective on his opponent? “Yeah, he’s sizable.” Classic. I don’t even need to say that he takes Mr ToughGuy down in minutes without breaking a sweat…

Back in the trailer park nothing much has changed, which is just the way I like it. ‘Ma’ Boggs, a rib-tickling performance yet again from the unstoppable Ruth Gordon, comes out with some right corkers, my personal favourite is directed at Clyde and goes along the lines of “Come back here with my Oreos you hairy ass!!!”  And I’d kick myself for not mentioning her complaining about Philo’s fighting as though she were Shakespeare himself… “let him scramble your brains and turn you into a turnip so I can spend the next twenty years watering you.”

She probably has the biggest character arc out of anybody in the film, although you could still lay a ruler against it without much trouble. It all kicks off when Orville is incapacitated and Philo in danger. It’s up to Ma to save the day and beat the bad guys to the motel where he’s staying and warn him of the danger. Well before anything, the image of tiny, old Ruth Gordon driving Orville’s pick-up truck, a festoon of sparks trailing in her wake because she neglected to detach whatever he was picking up, is more than enough to tickle your funny bone. Before she can take any steps to save the day, the past-his-prime motel owner cosies up to her and she automatically knocks his lights out before lamenting “the first live one in twenty years and I disabled him!” Not to worry Ma, it’ll take more than a blow to the nose to quell the power of love and a daydream/fantasy sequence showing a bodacious beach babe of about 25 with Ruth Gordon’s face superimposed over the model’s is just the icing on this most un-serious of cakes. In her desperation to score, she turns to the lord above for help and afterwards remains eternally and very loudly grateful to him at every opportunity. Much to Orville’s dismay and bafflement.

Don’t you see?! This film isn’t meant to be taken seriously in any way, shape or form! In fact the deliberate lack of finesse about the aforementioned superimposing is testament to this very fact, because I’m pretty sure if Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan had made it you’d have been left genuinely wondering what kind of diet Gordon was on to be in such great shape at 104. And then there’s the ending of the film, where Philo wins the fight of his career against a the ‘sizable’ William Smith with a broken arm. It’s all one big joke, and one I’d be overjoyed to pull out of my Christmas cracker in a month’s time.

On the subject of jokes, I must dedicate some time to exploring the perfection of the infamous Black Widows. Following Philo from the first film, they’re back and madder (and stupider) than ever at him for making idiots out of them… repeatedly. Just in case their southern-hick drawls, ten word vocabulary and ridiculous leader weren’t enough to let us know they were about as scary as a pantomime dame, their top-secret Operation-Get-Philo meeting opens with one clan member fretting “good grief, my brownies are burning!”

Later in the film they get covered in hot tar, like you do, and as we all know from waxing (/hearing our wives/mothers/sisters moan about waxing), it’s got to come off, along with the hair underneath it. Cue cue-ball head gags, clown wigs and slippery hair pieces (which may or may not be road kill), and a lovely scene where even the traffic police find them so unintimidating they take pity and let them off a parking ticket. As you can imagine, the Black Widow boss is none too impressed by this display of pity and cries like a little girl about how they are “law breakers! We are utterly despicable! We have earned them tickets!”  but it falls on deaf ears. Also I’ve just noticed they’re named after a spider that’s a girl. Haha.

Well anyway, Any Which Way You Can bloody funny. It’s like a kiddies’ film except it’s not for kiddies, it’s for grown-ups, because it has violence and boobs. To the film elitist it’s plagued with flaws and short-comings, but everyone knows that elitists have no fun. If you can’t enjoy a monkey sitting in a bar with a bottle of beer or an old lady being outsmarted by a primate then you have no soul. That will be all.

Dani Singer

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