One of those lowbrow hits whose immense popularity defies all reasonable explanation, the Clint Eastwood action-comedy Every Which Way But Loose feels like a bad country song come to life, with random gags about a rascally primate thrown in for good measure. Eastwood plays Philo, a truck driver who moonlights as a bare-knuckle brawler and happens to own a pet orangutan. When he falls for a flighty country singer (Sondra Locke) who skips out on him, Philo chases her from California to Colorado, picking up nasty pursuers along the way: a pair of bruiser cops who hold a grudge after Philo kicked their asses in a bar fight, and a gang of bikers whose members have been humiliated by Philo. The movie comprises a string of stupidly macho episodes, interspersed with charmless scenes of Eastwood romancing Locke, the pale blonde actress who was his paramour in several films (and his private life) from the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s. Every Which Way But Loose also makes room for musical cameos by country singers including Charlie Rich and Mel Tillis, plus a grating supporting performance by Harold and Maude star Ruth Gordon, doing the potty-mouth shtick she contributed to a number of bad movies.
Every Which Way But Loose drags on forever and can’t maintain a consistent tone, since some of the fighting bits are way too intense for lightweight escapist fare. However, the really confusing thing is that Every Which Way But Loose doesn’t feel like a bad movie. With several Eastwood regulars among the crew—and, more likely than not, Eastwood looking over nominal director James Fargo’s shoulder—the picture has a degree of technical spit and polish its idiotic script simply doesn’t deserve. Still, audiences loved the damn thing enough to warrant a more-of-the-same sequel, Any Which Way You Can (1980). On a happier note, when Eastwood pal Burt Reynolds heard about Every Which Way But Loose, he told his friend to expect payback for infringing into Reynolds’ domain of brawling comedy; true to his word, Reynolds retaliated by making Sharky’s Machine (1981), a terrific cop thriller in the vein of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry flicks.
Every Which Way But Loose: LAME