Dragnet is a 1987 buddy cop comedy film that serves as both a parody of and homage to the long-running television series of the same name. It was written and directed by Tom Mankiewicz and stars Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.
LAPD Sergeant Joe Friday, a Generation Xerox of his uncle from the series, is unhappily partnered with smart alec Pep Streebeck. Their contrasting personalities initially clash (it's, like, a rule or something), but they soon find common ground while investigating a cult calling itself P.A.G.A.N. (People Against Goodness And Normalcy), who plan to perform a ritual that will culminate in a Virgin Sacrifice. Between trying to protect Connie Swail (the aforementioned virgin) and unmask the cultists, the duo become the only ones who can stop an even deadlier plot that puts all of Los Angeles at risk.
Just the Tropes, Ma'am:
- Accidental Misnaming: Friday's Granny Mundy cannot pronounce Streebek's last name to save her life. She even calls him "Detective Star Trek" at one point.
- Aerith and Bob: Joe Friday, meet Pep Streebek.
- Affably Evil: Jonathan Whirley
- Agony of the Feet: Friday has this when a limo runs over his feet.
- Affectionate Parody
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After Friday's car is car-bombed... "My hat was in that car."
- "Reckless endangerment of human life... willful destruction of private property... failure to signal for a safe lane change..."
- Ascended Meme: Friday actually gets to say "Just the facts, ma'am" in the film.
- Auto Erotica: Parodied and averted in a scene where Streebek tries to figure out where Friday is:Streebek: For a minute I pictured him introducing that little Orange County cupcake to the one piece of his equipment not issued to him by the department. But then I figured Joe would never spring for the cost of a motel room. And since having sex in a Yugo was a logistical impossibility, I came to the conclusion that something was wrong.
- Battering Ram: Apparently the LAPD has a vehicle that is the offspring of a battering ram and a tank.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Reverend Whirley and the police commissioner.
- Big Damn Heroes: With a tank!
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Whirley, a self-proclimed Moral Guardian who is secretly the Big Bad in disguise.
- Brick Joke: The film parodies the series' opening "names have been changed" Catch-Phrase by noting that "George Baker will now be called Sylvia Wiss." A minor character by the name of Sylvia Wiss later shows up for a brief exchange.
- Buddy Cop Movie: Complete with Odd Couple of protagonist policemen.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The other characters (and the audience) chuckle at Friday's hopelessly outdated, stodgy attitudes. But he shows us time and time again exactly why he's considered the best cop in Los Angeles. In the other direction, Streebeck clearly doesn't have much regard for regulations or procedure, but Friday mentions Pep has a long list of merit citations and he repeatedly proves his ability.
- By-the-Book Cop: Friday, in clear contrast to Streebeck. He can even cite chapter and verse of the various regulations that have been violated by everyone from Streebeck to the actual criminals.
- Cassandra Truth: During the pagan ritual, the Virgin Connie Swail manages to snag the mask off the pagan leader and see his face. When she later identifies him as the Reverend Whirley, only Friday believes her.
- Chekhov's Gun: The handful of drugs Streebek takes at the Pagan rally to blend in while undercover.
- Celibate Hero: Friday, until the final scene.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Friday is nearly mugged by a gang of teenage delinquents, he laments "And on a school night too!"
- Comically Serious: Dan Aykroyd takes Jack Webb's uber-straight demeanor and cranks it Up to Eleven. Could be described as Elwood Blues Up to Eleven as well.
- Compensating for Something: Averted with FridayThe Virgin Connie Swail: How come his is so much bigger than yours?
Officer Joe Friday: Miss?
The Virgin Connie Swail: The gun.
Friday: I've never needed more.
- Cool Old Lady: Granny Mundy is clearly a lot more laid back than her grandson Friday is.Streebek: Granny Mundy, have you ever eaten a chili dog from the back of a motorcycle?Granny Mundy: Not 'til now, you sly dog!
- Cranky Landlord: Enid Borden.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pep Streebek. Friday too, in his own Motor Mouth way.
- Decoy Protagonist: Minor case. After Friday is captured by P.A.G.A.N., Streebek becomes the narrator while he finds out what happened to Friday.
- Defrosting Ice King: Friday gradually becomes a little less high-strung and more friendly and ultimately loses his virginity at the end of the movie.
- Description Porn: Friday's Narration is stuffed to the gills with generally trivial details.
- Determinator: Friday, chasing a kidnapper who escapes on a Lear jet. Cue the police jet! (Complete with siren, flashing lights and 'To Serve and Protect' emblem.)
- Did You Just Have Sex?: Friday constantly refers to the young woman they rescued as "the Virgin Connie Swail." Until the very end of the film:Streebeck: [catches Friday yawning on the way into work] Long night last night partner? I thought the Christian Science Reading Room closed at ten.
Friday: Not that it's any of your business, Mr. National Enquirer, but I had the pleasure of spending a quiet evening in the company of Connie Swail.
Streebeck: Wait a minute. "Connie Swail?" Don't you mean "the Virgin Connie Swail"?
[Friday merely turns his head and looks at Streebeck with a raised eyebrow, accompanied with a *BUM-BA-DUM-BUM!* ]
- Dirty Cop: Or in this case, dirty police commissioner.
- Distressed Damsel: The Virgin Connie Swail
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Not the title theme itself, but the film's other major song, "City Of Crime" which plays over the closing credits, is an '80s style rap performed by Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks (in-character as Friday and Streebek).
- The Dragon / The Brute: Emil Muzz.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Police commissioner Jane Kirkpatrick
- Dressing as the Enemy: Friday and Streebek dress like street punks to infiltrate the P.A.G.A.N. meeting. (They look kind of ridiculous, but it works until they have to rescue Connie.)
- Drives Like Crazy: "Streebek, there's no road here!"
- During Friday's and Streebek's first police chase together, Friday enumerates a Long List of traffic violations... against his own partner.
- Later reversed when Friday is rushing to save the Virgin Connie Swail (Streebek quickly guesses that Friday is acting less like a cop this time and more like a man in love, which Friday doesn't comment on):Streebek: Don't you remember those films they showed us in high school? Red Asphalt? Blood On The Highway?
Friday: Buddy, you just picked two of my favorites!Streebek: (turns around) Hey, that was a four-way stop you just blew through!
Friday: Felt good!
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Rev. Whirley frequently giggles at his own "jokes," but nobody else does.
- Face Palm: Captain Gannon does a double-barreled version whilst Friday and Streekbek demonstrate the goat dance.
- Fair Cop: Streebek, after some serious cleaning-up.
- Family Values Villain: The Big Bad is the well-known head of a moral advancement movement, and of course moonlights as a cult leader.
- The Film of the Series
- Fed to the Beast: The faux cultists intended to do this Connie by throwing her to the stolen Burmese Python, which was in a large water-filled pit. Streekbek was able to subdue the snake by force-feeding it the narcotic drugs he had gotten from a gang member earlier, putting it out quickly.
- Flanderization: Ackroyd's Joe Friday takes the original Friday's straight-laced, by-the-rules personality Up to Eleven. Somewhat justified, as Ackroyd's character is the nephew of Webb's Friday, and clearly only imperfectly emulates his uncle.
- Fun with Acronyms: People Against Goodness And Normalcy. Pulls double duty as an Incredibly Lame Pun.
- Not forgetting Moral Advance Movement of America, though that one gets a bit less attention.
- Gilligan Cut: Not an actual cut, but in one scene where Friday is waiting to meet Streebek in a bad neighborhood, Narrator!Friday notes that it's not a good place to stand around whistling. You can guess what Friday is doing in the scene.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Streebek's "interrogation" of Emil Muzz is a variation. When Friday (Good Cop) leaves the room to get coffee, Steebek (Bad Cop) does something very unorthodox to get him to talk. He reveals a few important details when Friday comes back, but then shuts up again, at which point Streebek "suggests" Friday leave again to get some donuts... In the next scene it is implied that Emil told them the rest.
- Also, Friday uses this term to describe a bondage game Streebek plays with his motorcycle cop girlfriend, but not a true example.
- Groin Attack:
Well, Emil. Looks like it's just you, me, your balls...and this drawer. (Cue screaming)
- During the chaotic escape from the pagan cult festival, one of the pagan cult members attempts to grab Connie, but she quickly takes him out with a fast knee to the nuts, saying that she's terribly sorry while he falls to the ground in a state of excruciating pain.
- Streebek's "interrogation" of Emil Muzz.
- And finally, Friday takes down Muzz again in the climax with a shotgun barrel to the nads.
- Guilty Pleasure: For Friday, chili dogs.
- Hollywood Satanism: P.A.G.A.N. seems to practice this at first. However, it turns out to be a ruse to rile up the public by making them think such an organization is in their midst, and make everyone distrust authority in order to put their true plan in motion. (Unfortunately for Connie, they're more than willing to commit murder to make their Virgin Sacrifice look real.)
- Human Sacrifice: Luckily for her, they needed a virgin.Streebek: You're still a virgin?
- Hypocritical Humor:Friday: Bogus cops. No matter how many times I see that, it never fails to disgust me.
Streebek: (they're disguised as P.A.G.A.N.s) You mean people dressing up in strange clothes, pretending to be who they're not?
Friday: That's absolutely right, I— *glares at Streebek*
- Also, see Drives Like Crazy, above.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: "You'll get used to me in time."
- Impersonating an Officer: Stolen police cars and PAGAN cult members disguised as officers are used to keep the locals away from the site where the Virgin Connie Swayle is due to be sacrificed.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Friday, who claims to have only two vices: smoking and chili dogs. Spoofed, of course.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "Thank God, it's Friday!"
- The Infiltration: Friday and Streebek go undercover at a pagan festival.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Played semi-straight with the detectives; but also reversed with a pair of highway patrol officers who turn out to be disguised pagans.
- Insistent Terminology: Everyone calls her "the Virgin Connie Swail".Streebek: Don't you mean "the Virgin Connie Swail"?
- Intergenerational Friendship: Streebek puts the charm on Friday's grandmother.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Different people have different pronunciations for Emil Muzz's name. Enid Borden (his landlady) pronounces it the way it's spelled, Friday and Streebek pronounce it, "A-mul," and Whirley pronounces it, "Em-mole".
- It Was Here, I Swear!: Joe Friday and Pep Streebeck infiltrate a P.A.G.A.N ritual with thousands of attendees, a fleet of stolen public vehicles, a giant television screen, and a huge pit with a giant snake inside of it. After they escape by the skin of their teeth, they go back there with their boss... and there's absolutely no trace of anything there.
- Jerk Ass: Jane Kirkpatrick, Jerry Caesar (who narrowly escapes becoming an Asshole Victim later on) and Emil's landlady.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Capt. Gannon is presented as a crusty, "tough love" type of guy. On the other hand, when told that one of the best officers on the entire force has gone missing (let alone the nephew of your old partner), you'd think your reaction would be a little more than "WHO CARES?".
- Kinky Cuffs: Joe Friday has to pick up his partner Pep Streebek from his house where he's playing "Good Cop, Bad Cop" with his girlfriend, a motorcycle cop. Friday has to wait until she removes the handcuffs from Streebek's wrists before he can go with him.
- Last-Name Basis: Friday is on one with Streebek, which irks him to no end.
- Lawful Stupid: Friday is a borderline case, but he gets better.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Why would Friday publicly arrest a beloved cultural figure, who is close with both his captain and the police commissioner, without building any case first? Because that guy tried to kill the girl he's since fallen for.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Kidnapping of a woman (who is a virgin, and this emphasized every time she's mentioned) —> The discovery of a criminal cult with members in all levels of society —> The Evil Plan of Reverend Jonathan Whirley to become incredibly rich by Playing Both Sides — getting donations from the Moral Guardians for his false crusade of getting porn off the streets, becoming the chairman of one of the biggest porn production companies in the country via Klingon Promotion, and using the cult he created as foot soldiers.
- Motor Mouth: Friday, who can rapid-fire stuff like police regulations in a way only Dan Ackroyd can.
- Ms. Fanservice: Aside from the various girls accompanying Caesar, there is Streebek's motorcycle cop girlfriend.
- Mugging the Monster: The three young punks that want some smokes from Friday. A Curb-Stomp Battle ensues, though the punks all manage to run off. "And on a school night, too."
- Mythology Gag: At the start of the film, Friday's partner Frank Smith gets Put on a Bus (since he never appears on camera, it's more accurate to say he never got off the bus). One of Friday's partners in the series, as detailed in the body, was also named Frank Smith.Capt. Gannon: I'm afraid Frank won't be coming in today, Joe.Joe Friday: 24-hour flu?Capt. Gannon: Or tomorrow.Friday: 48?
- Nature Adores a Virgin: Joe Friday falls for the Virgin Connie Swail (as she's almost always called) after rejecting a topless model and a stripper. Connie may also be using this trope, since she chooses Joe over his partner who is seen with several different women; it's implied Joe is a virgin himself.Pep Streebeck: Oh Joe, you never had these feelings before, have you?Joe Friday: Almost. I had a kitten once.Pep Streebeck: Yeah, it's going to be a little different. Connie is not going to be sleeping in a box, or meowing all night, or clawing up your drapes. Or maybe she will. I mean, you're both kind of starting from scratch with this.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Friday isn't impressed at all by the dancers at the strip club that Streebek takes him to. (Which he admits, makes good coffee.)
- Of Course I'm Not a Virgin: Totally averted. The virgin Connie Swail doesn't mind people introducing her as such, and Friday doesn't deny it himself.Joe Friday: [as they go undercover at a pagan ritual] "Prepare the virgin?" I don't like the sound of that.Pep Streebeck: Let's just hope they're not referring to you.
- Odd Couple
- Perp Sweating / Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: "Well, Muzz, looks like it's just you and me... your balls, and this drawer."
- The TV edit cuts the balls part without losing its effectiveness.
- Psycho for Hire: Emil Muzz.
- Rank Up/Remake Cameo/Continuity Nod: Harry Morgan returns as Frank Gannon, long since promoted to detective captain and put in command of the Robbery-Homicide Division
- A photo of Jack Webb sits on Joe's desk, as this one is the original's nephew.
- Sergeant's Log: Friday gives us the facts, just like Jack Webb used to.
- And after Friday goes missing, Streebeck takes over, in his own style, at least.
- Sex Is Evil: Friday seems to think so at first.Friday: [After turning down Sylvia Wiss] Now let me tell you something, Streebeck. There are two things that clearly differentiate the human species from animals. One, we use cutlery. Two, we're capable of controlling our sexual urges. Now, you might be an exception, but don't drag me down into your private Hell.
- Sinister Minister: Reverend Whirley, whose pious televangelist act is just that, and while he rails against the wickedness of Jerry Caesar's smut empire for the cameras, he's also plotting to murder Caesar and take it over himself. Friday, who was a fan of the Reverend, isn't happy to learn this.
- Shown Their Work: As a good-natured send up of the original show, the script paid homage to Webb's fastidious attention to detail. The movie version of Friday cites the actual regulations regarding dress and appearance from the LAPD handbook.Friday: I don't care what undercover rock you crawled out from, there's a dress code for detectives in Robbery-Homicide. Section 3-605. 10. 20. 22. 24. 26. 50. 70. 80. It specifies: clean shirt, short hair, tie, pressed trousers, sports jacket or suit, and leather shoes, preferably with a high shine on them.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Enid Borden.
- Smug Snake: Reverend Whirley and Jerry Caesar.
- Straight Man: Dan Ackroyd portrays a very anal-retentive Joe Friday. Can be described as Elwood Blues Up to Eleven.
- Spin-Offspring: Well, nephew, at any rate. Just for good measure, the nephew not only acts like his uncle, but also talks and dresses like him.
- Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: Friday does this so Strebeck can have a quick "heart-to-heart" with Emil Muz. When Muz starts to shut up again, Strebeck says, "You know, some donuts would go great with this coffee", and out Friday goes again.
- Storming the Castle
- Take That!: A few aimed towards the Yugo (the only car the department is willing to issue Friday and Streebek after they lose two of them), but most would call that's an Acceptable Target.
- Tank Goodness: Sporting a smiley-face Battering Ram instead of a gun.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Friday invokes this when forced to work with smut king Jerry Caesar:Friday: I don't care for you or for the putrid sludge you're troweling out. But until they change the laws and put you sleaze kings out of business, my job is to help you get back your stench-ridden boxes of smut; and since I'll be doing it holding my nose, I'll be doing it with ONE HAND!
- Theme Naming: Granny Mundy. Sure, it's spelled different, but still...
- They Call Me Mr Tibbs: While stressing out about Friday and The Virgin Connie Swail being missing, Pep unloads on an unkempt uniform cop who fails to address him as "Detective", capping it off by ordering the cop to get a proper haircut. He immediately becomes distressed to have reacted exactly the way Friday would've.
- Turn in Your Badge: Threatened by the police commissioner, mainly because she's in on the caper. Friday is finally forced to do so, but by the film's climax, Gannon hands it back to him, confessing that he didn't have the heart to make it official.
- Values Dissonance: In-Universe example with Friday, who doggedly clings to his uncle's Fifties-/Sixties-era button-down, hyper-conservative worldview in the midst of the so-called Decade Of Excess.
- Viewers Are Morons: Parodied when the PAGAN cult's full name is shown for the first time.Joe: (reading) People Against Goodness And Normalcy...P-A-G-A-N...PAGAN!Pat: (sarcastically): Good, Joe.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Whirley and Kirkpatrick
- Virgin in a White Dress: In the 1987 film, the bad guys steal a wedding dress so their Virgin Sacrifice will wear white.
- Virginity Makes You Stupid: Downplayed with Joe Friday and (the virgin) Connie Swail, although it's more them being incredibly old-fashioned and uptight than idiotic.
- Virgin Sacrifice: Connie Swail
- Virgin Tension: Downplayed, but Connie Swail is always "the virgin Connie Swail"... until the closing shot of the film.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Streebek seems to view his partnership with Friday as such, and even confesses to Friday that in spite of all his past judgement in thinking he's thick-headed, insensitive, reactionary, and less fun to be around than anyone else he knows, he considers him a true friend. Friday's viewpoint is a little more ambiguous, though he does eventually call Streebek by his first name (and with a smile) after given this little speech:
- Wham Line: Or more technically, Wham Silence after Steebek asks, "Don't you mean the VIRGIN Connie Swail?" Cue raised eyebrow from Friday and "DUN Dun DUN DUN..."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Nothing is said about what happens to Commissioner Kirkpatrick.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The film dutifully trots out the series' signature closing shot describing the Big Bad's ultimate (legal) fate... and then proceeds to give it a big ol' wedgie. "[The Villain] was sentenced to 43 consecutive 99-year prison terms. Which means he'll be eligible for parole in seven years."
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Whirley is plotting to kill both the Mayor and Jerry Caesar, intending to run both sides of the "smut empire/moral majority" equation. When the plan crumbles and he makes his getaway, he also casually ditches his co-conspirator by stranding her on the runway to be arrested by the authorities.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame:Caesar: I'll give you money, jewels, broads, automobiles! I'll give you anything you want, just name it!
Friday: How about taking your hands off my suit?