The box-office success of Every Which Way But Loose (1978) all but ensured that audiences hadn’t seen the last of Clint Eastwood playing Philo, a trucker with an orangutan for a pet and a side career as a bare-knuckle fighter. Whereas Every Which Way But Loose is an awful movie that can be explained away by assuming that Eastwood wanted a break from playing tight-lipped avengers, Any Which Way You Can is inexcusable crap. Rehashing the narrative elements of the previous film and sprawling across an absurd 118-minute running time, Any Which Way You Can is punishingly stupid. The die is cast during the opening-credits scene, a dull montage of a pickup truck driving while Eastwood and Ray Charles croon a ghastly country song titled “Beer’s to You” on the soundtrack. Then comes the insipid storyline. After being dumped by country singer Lynn (Sondra Locke) in the previous film, Philo retires from fighting, but gangsters offer him $25,000 to tussle with Jack (William Smith), a brawler with a reputation for beating his opponents to death. Meanwhile, Philo has misadventures with his drinking buddy Orville (Geoffrey Lewis) and Orville’s foul-mouthed mother (Ruth Gordon). Everything unfolds predictably. Friends ask Philo not to fight, and then criminals blackmail him into participating. At regular intervals, the movie stops dead for musical performances (by Locke, Glen Campbell, and others), as well as scenes of Clyde defecating in police cars and sharing a hotel room with a frisky lady orangutan. At one point, Clyde cavorts to the accompaniment of a song called “Orangutan Hall of Fame.” By the time Any Which Way You Can reaches its nadir—cross-dressing bikers, a 20-minute fistfight, homophobic dialogue—the idiocy has become intolerable. Although Eastwood wasn’t done scratching his comedy itch (please give the 1989 clunker Pink Cadillac a wide berth), at least Any Which Way You Can ended the actor’s orangutan era.
Any Which Way You Can: LAME