I'm well aware that there's a small but loyal fanbase out there for 1983's Nate and Hayes, folks who consider it an old-fashioned and underappreciated sword-swinger of an adventure flick, chock full of devious pirates, dangerous savages, and dazzling derring-do. And while it's cool to know that an obscure little flick like Nate and Hayes still holds a place in the heart of some film-lovers, the simple truth is that the movie's a huge sloppy mess. A few hours ago I would have been with those who remember the film vaguely yet warmly -- but I just spent the last two hours re-watching the thing, and the experience was borderline painful.
Tommy Lee Jones and Michael O'Keefe star as a pair of mismatched matinee-style heroes: the former is a rascally outlaw, the latter is a stuffy missionary man. But once the lovely Miss Sophie is abducted by the evil Ben Pease, Nate and Hayes must band together and chase the villain down!
Overstuffed with ugly stereotypes, dingy production design, overripe acting performances, and a directorial style best described as "lame," Nate and Hayes is the sort of flick the plays better inside your memory banks than it will on your DVD player. The screenplay (co-written by a young John Hughes) is a schizophrenic mixture of hardcore violence and limply-delivered lightness. How we're supposed to chuckle along while a bunch of shrieking "natives" get riddled with bullet holes is beyond me, but frankly -- "tone" is the least of this flick's worries.
Aside from a humorously uncomfortable performance by Tommy Lee Jones (and a hilariously uncovincing one by O'Keefe), there's very little in Nate and Hayes that isn't cheesy, silly, or downright obnoxious. The movie shoots for light-hearted adventure but sinks like a leaden anchor.
Video: The anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer is quite a bit better than one might expect from a forgotten cheapie from 1983, so at least the fans have that to look forward to.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 or French mono. Optional subtitles are available in English. Audio quality is serviceable enough, though certainly not any sort of revelation.
Nate and Hayes is even worse than The Pirate Movie, because it doesn't have any moronic songs to punctuate the tedium.