Dutch is a 1991 comedy-drama road trip movie which tells the story of a working-class man, Dutch Dooley (played by Ed O'Neill), who attempts to bond with his girlfriend's stubborn and privileged son, Doyle (played by Ethan Embry), through a road trip back home for Thanksgiving. Dutch is a man of humble beginnings and works hard to provide for his family. Although he lacks an education, he has a strong work ethic and exudes a sense of pride and self-respect. On the other hand, Doyle is a wealthy kid who has never known what it's like to work hard, as his mother always paid for his every need. Doyle is entitled, spoiled and bratty.
After learning that his girlfriend, Natalie (played by JoBeth Williams), will not be able to spend Thanksgiving with her son due to a business trip, Dutch decides to pick up Doyle from his boarding school in Georgia and drive him to their home in Chicago. Doyle's father, Reed (played by Christopher McDonald), offers to fly him home but he rejects because he would rather go with Dutch.
The road trip from Georgia to Chicago starts off with Doyle being apprehensive and antagonistic towards Dutch, who he sees as an obstacle in the way of him and his mother. He picks on him, insults him, and even attempts to run away. Dutch, however, refuses to give in and instead takes the opportunity to teach Doyle about life through a series of misadventures that come their way.
The two characters' conflicting styles and personalities lead to several hilarious scenes such as when they ride a freight train and when they are forced to hitchhike with a couple of cowboys. Along the way, Doyle experiences the harsh realities of life that he had never been exposed to before. He learns that things don't always go according to plan, sometimes you have to improvise, and that you need to work hard to achieve goals.
Dutch also reveals to Doyle about his difficult childhood and how he had to struggle to rise above his circumstances. Initially, Doyle is not interested in hearing about Dutch's past, but eventually sympathizes with him.
Throughout the film, Ed O'neill is a standout as Dutch, he brings depth and nuance along with humour to his character, who is genuinely trying to help Doyle, in spite of the fact that Doyle is closed off to him. Ethan Embry similarly delivers, bringing depth and layers to his character. Despite his more formal upbringing, he has an innate likability, which the audience can see.
The film's direction by Peter Faiman is efficient and well-paced, with several dynamic set pieces that keep the film interesting. The backdrop of the road trip also works well, taking the audience on a journey which helps to connect the film's events together.
The screenplay which was written by John Hughes is excellent, and it deftly strikes a balance between humour and heart. The dialogue is sharp and the characters are well developed. The friendship between Dutch and Doyle is a highlight, as the audience slowly sees them bond over the course of the film.
The movie has an up-beat and positive tone overall, with a message of hard work and determination being the keys to success. Also, Dutch is a celebration of family, rough around the edges as they may be. It is a perfect Thanksgiving movie and suitable for all ages from the late 80s onwards.
In conclusion, Dutch is a lovely coming-of-age and road trip movie with an inspiring message that encourages hard work and determination. It offers plenty of warm laughs and a genuinely heartwarming storyline. It is a must-watch for all who enjoy heartwarming family movies.
Dutch is a 1991 comedy. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5.