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Film / Dutch

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A 1991 Road Trip Plot comedy-drama written by John Hughes, directed by Peter Faiman, and starring Ed O'Neill in the title role.

As a favor for his new divorcee girlfriend Natalie (JoBeth Williams), working-class construction company owner Dutch Dooley offers to pick up her troubled son Doyle (Ethan Embry) from his elite boarding school and take him home for Thanksgiving. Upon arriving at the school, Dutch quickly finds that Doyle is a conceited brat and a snob who instantly looks down on Dutch and stubbornly insists that his rich father will come for him. Through great adversity, Dutch drags Doyle on a road trip home, hoping to find some way of connecting with the kid along the way. Hilarity Ensues.

Tropes in the film include:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Dutch continually misnames Doyle; Doyle stops correcting him after a bit.
  • Accidental Pervert: Doyle falls asleep on Brock's boobs.
  • Black Comedy: The film ends with Natalie, Dutch and Doyle at the dinner table about to begin the Thanksgiving feast. Before they commence, Dutch asks Doyle to retrieve Dutch's coat, as it contains a very special gift for Natalie. As Doyle turns to walk away, Dutch pulls the BB gun Doyle originally shot him with and finally gets his revenge on Doyle by shooting him in the butt.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: When Doyle refuses to leave his (empty) school campus for Thanksgiving, Dutch scoffs, "You gonna stay here? Watch the football game on TV? Make a turkey sandwich and hang yourself in the toilet?"
  • Break the Haughty: Much of the trip consists of Doyle's condescending and entitled worldview failing him repeatedly. Even though he's mellowed a fair bit by that point, what really puts his spoiled nature to rest is spending the night in a homeless shelter with a poor family who lost their livelihood and house, showing him that as bad as he thought he had it in life, things could be a hell of a lot worse.
  • Broken Pedestal: For Doyle, when he finds that not only is his Dad not in London as he claimed for his reason for not spending the holiday with Doyle, but he's sleeping with another woman.
  • Bunny Ears Picture Prank: In the movie's poster.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Brock, the younger of the two hookers who give Dutch and Doyle a lift, is VERY busty, something Doyle immediately notices. It takes a while for him to stop eyeballing her chest.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dutch's pinky ring, and the pellet gun he confiscates from Doyle.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Dutch teaches Doyle how to make a proper fist. In the third act, Doyle slugs Dutch and knocks him out, causing Doyle to look at his own fist in awe.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Dutch is introduced being out of place in a fancy dinner party. He even flicks the pate off of a cracker before eating it.
  • Gilligan Cut: Doyle insists that he's not going anywhere with Dutch... cut to his being hauled out of the school tied up and gagged with a pair of underwear in his mouth.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Dutch decides to pit his self-described "good old All-American street fighting" against Doyle's "high brown belt." Doyle gets the better of a couple of encounters because Dutch doesn't take him seriously enough. Later Dutch shows him how to form a proper fist when punching... Then proceeds to stick his chin out and put his hands in his pockets, urging Doyle to take a swing.
  • Groin Attack: Inflicted on Dutch by Doyle twice during their first meeting: once via kick and once via BB gun.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: The sound of a shell casing hitting the floor is dubbed in whenever Doyle's pellet gun is fired. With air guns, the propellant is built into the gun and not part of the ammunition, so they don't leave shell casings.
  • Hates Rich People: "Hate" is a strong word considering Dutch's laid-back attitude, but early on he makes it very clear that he's not impressed by the rich snobs at a fancy party. He's very proud of being a blue collar construction worker and Self-Made Man who owns his own company.
    Dutch Dooley: My income is a damn lot more than your father gives your mother to live on. But my money doesn't matter in your neighborhood, because I work for it. Working for your money doesn't matter in your neck of the woods, it's whose crotch the doctor yanked you out of.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Two of 'em, who pick up Dutch and Doyle when they try hitchhiking. Subverted when they take advantage of Doyle's young, inquisitive nature to rob Dutch while he's sleeping, revealing their nature as a couple of hustlers. Dutch sees right through their act and tells Doyle one morning at breakfast... just before they drive off with his wallet.
  • I Know Karate: Doyle proclaims to Dutch that he has a "high brown belt" and proves it.
  • Insult Backfire: Dutch goes into some detail about his working-class roots, and how his father and mother both worked long hours on tough jobs to support him. Doyle sneeringly quips "You must be SO proud." Dutch's response:
    Dutch: "...I am."
  • Jerkass:
    • The two rent-a-cops at the truck depot. Doyle and Dutch get out of there by pretending to be a schizophrenic killer and his friend.
    • The horrible, bitchy old hostess at the fancy restaurant our heroes enter to use the washroom. The couple she was trying to "protect" from Dutch and Doyle are so disgusted by the way she treats them that they immediately end their patronage to help the two out.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Downplayed. A homeless family bonds with Dutch and Doyle and drives them back home to Chicago. Once there, Dutch repays their kindness by handing the father a business card and promising him a good job with Dutch's construction company.
  • Megaton Punch: After the incident with the semi, Doyle picks a fight with Dutch, but with Kung Fu style. Dutch tries to show Doyle how to fight all-American with a closed fist and loose stance... he catches on pretty quick. Ow!
  • Not So Above It All:
    • The first event that shows this in Doyle is his interest in Dutch's fireworks, which he has to work hard to conceal.
    • Also, Dutch talks a lot of game about not caring about Doyle, but when Dutch believes Doyle's been killed in a semi-trailer crash, he shows a lot of concern. Of course, then it's revealed that Doyle was pranking Dutch, getting him back for abandoning him on the side of the road a bit before.
  • Papa Wolf: Dutch doesn't particularly like Doyle, but since Doyle is his girlfriend's son (and potentially his future step-son), he looks out for him once they're reduced to trying to make it home by hitchhiking. When the diner hostess calls a busboy to 'escort' Doyle from the premises, Dutch immediately squares up with the much younger man, making it obvious that he'll touch Doyle at his peril.
  • Predatory Prostitute: Dutch and Doyle catch a ride with two call girls who seem friendly enough at first, one helping Doyle work through his issues with his mom. Unfortunately, it gives her friend time to steal Dutch's wallet, and they also end up stealing their luggage and abandoning them at a gas station.
    Dutch Dooley: Your angel with the dirty wings flew! Taking my wallet, my luggage, my last cigar!
  • Road Trip Plot: Dutch and Doyle and traveling home for Thanksgiving. It's an enforced trope, as Dutch is intentionally prolonging the trip in the hopes of bonding with Doyle.
  • Self-Made Man: Dutch has blue-collar sensibilities, but he owns a construction company and is very well-off financially, something that catches Doyle by surprise:
    Dutch: "It's a damn sight more than your father gives your mother to live on. Oh, but my money doesn't count in your neck of the woods, does it? Because I worked for it."
  • Self-Plagiarism: The movie shares its premise (wealthy snob & working-class joe struggle to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving) with the much-loved Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Incidentally, both films were written by John Hughes, which raises the question of whether something like this actually happened to him at some point (and, as it turns out, yes; it did).
  • Schlubby, Scummy Security Guard: The film has two switching station guards who roughly eject the protagonists and then start beating Dutch when he objects to their shoving Doyle, who's a kid. Doyle busts out some of his martial arts training to turn the tables and then grabs his pellet gun that Dutch confiscated earlier to bluff them into surrendering and backing off.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The central conflict is that Doyle is a snobby rich kid, while Dutch is proud of his working-class origins.
  • Spoiled Brat: Subverted. Doyle at first appears to be spoiled, but he's actually neglected by his father without realizing it.
  • Thanksgiving Day Story: The film takes place during Thanksgiving week.