As hard as it is for actors to make the jump from TV to movies, there's one
leap that's even more difficult: doing so well in film that most people pretty
much forget your original success on the small screen and you are exclusively
thought of as a movie star. Robin Williams and John Travolta did it; Don
Johnson and David Caruso didn't.
Another actor who made an extremely successful transition to film was Goldie
Hawn. In a way, she had both an easier and a more difficult time moving on
than did many others. Easier because she had no strong character
identification from her work on Laugh-In; she was just the ditzy blonde
chick, not Mork or Barbarino. At the same time, this affiliation may have
made it harder for her to expand into film because audiences largely didn't
take her seriously; again, Hawn seemed to be just a cute face and nothing
Well, since she's still starring in films 30 years after Laugh-In, obviously
she did SOMETHING right and whatever baggage she carried from that experience
didn't seem to weigh her down too heavily. Of course, she never really
escaped that flaky babe image, though. Whereas Travolta and Williams have
portrayed a wide variety of different kinds of characters, Hawn still seems to
be stuck within that same "dumb blonde" stereotype.
1984's Protocol is a perfect example of a stereotypical Goldie Hawn movie.
She plays Sunny Davis, an aging cocktail waitress who receives sudden
attention after thwarting an assassination attempt on a mideastern emir. Like
lots of other Hawn characters, she's cute, bubbly, naive and apparently not
too bright, but of course she packs lots of common sense, as we eventually
Much of the film proceeds amiably enough as it depicts Hawn as an amusing
"fish out of water"; for instance, she shows up to a luncheon party in tank
top and shorts because she was told it was a barbecue. During the latter part
of the movie, it heads more into Mr. Smith Goes to Washington territory as
Hawn learns how the D.C. muckity-mucks have used her for their own ends. It's
all passably entertaining and watchable though tremendously predictable and
Hawn does a decent job, which should be expected considering how many times
she's played virtually the same character. The rest of the cast contains some
decent actors, but they're all completely unmemorable here. Chris Sarandon
did some nice work in Fright Night, but as Hawn's bureaucrat love interest,
he's an absolute dud; I suppose he COULD leave less of an impression, but it's
hard to imagine.
Actually, the only memorable bit of acting in the entire film comes in the
form of a tiny bit from John Ratzenberger as a security guard who was a
witness to Hawn's heroics. His character isn't much of a departure from his
signature role as blow-hard Cliff Clavin, but it's fairly understated and
easily the funniest thing in the film. I kept hoping his character might pop
up again, but no such luck.
Don't get me wrong: I thought Protocol was generally an entertaining affair.
It loses a lot of steam during its second half, but it provides an amusing
Warner Bros. DVD release of Protocol came as one of their initial forays
into the realm of ultra-bargain DVDs; it's one of their "no-frills" line that
feature an MSRP of only $15. Most of the titles in this line feature no
supplemental materials and are not presented in their original aspect ratios.
For a movie like Protocol, the loss of letterboxing doesn't exactly cause a
calamity. It may lack a sliver of picture information on the sides, but if
so, any losses are negligible. While I have no real problem with the full-
screen presentation, I have significant issues with the generally terrible
transfer given to the film. Every once in a while, a scene pops up that looks
pretty good; a crisp image here, a vibrant color there. These instances are
very few and far between. For roughly 95% of the film, it offers a drab,
fuzzy, soft, and lifeless image. Is it a step up from VHS? Maybe, though
I've certainly seen tapes that look better than this mess.
The Dolby Pro Logic sound for Protocol fares a bit better. Rear channels
are used almost entirely for music, but the various musical selections sound
surprisingly good; many scenes feature then-contemporary recordings, and
they're fairly clean and occasionally pack a nice wallop of bass.
Unfortunately, dialog doesn't fare as well. While it's always intelligible,
speech often sounds flat and canned. This doesn't really detract from the
film, but it certainly doesn't help either.
As mentioned earlier, the bargain line of DVDs from whence Protocol comes
offers absolutely no bonus materials. When I say none, I mean NONE! They
didn't even bother to put a still photo from the film on the DVD's menu
screen! Menu options presented: chapter search and "play movie" - no subtitle
or foreign language options. Unlike virtually every other DVD I've seen, the
chapter search section doesn't even offer any still photos from the
represented scenes; it's all text! Okay, I know that Warner Bros. intended to
provide no extras with this release, but this is ridiculous. As far as
supplements go, it doesn't - and I think it CAN'T - get any worse than this.
As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. In the case of Protocol,
for your $15 or so you get a mildly entertaining film that's presented with a
roughly VHS presentation. Of course, you're pretty much paying VHS prices; a
quick trip to Amazon.com indicated that they want $10.49 for the DVD but they
ask $12.99 for the videotape! If you're set on owning the movie, obviously it
makes sense to get the DVD. Don't expect much from it, though; it's one of
the worst DVDs I've yet seen...