You wouldn’t know it judging from how quickly the 2017 box office bomb Snatched came and went from theater screens earlier in the year, but there actually was a time when the one and only Goldie Hawn could do no wrong in the eyes of America. Mind you, that was before the 1984 political comedy Protocol premiered and seemed to divide the country in half. One of two screenplays that decade written by the criminally neglected Buck Henry (Catch-22, The Graduate) ‒ who had previously hit bedrock with the widely panned First Family a few years before ‒ Protocol finds the comedienne famous for portraying bubbly blondes once more playing a bubbly blonde.
Sunny Davis (Hawn) is a ditzy cocktail waitress at a somewhat seedy Washington DC dive run by Kenneth Mars (Young Frankenstein). Though she is well-loved by people from all walks of life in town ‒ from the same-sex couple she lives with to the burly bikers who sometimes disrupt the bar ‒ poor Sunny doesn’t have much going for her, career-wise. But that all changes when the innocent and naïve lass accidentally prevents the attempted assassination of a visiting Middle Eastern diplomat, thus turning her into a national heroine. This paves the way for Sunny’s unique flare for being all too honest catching the attention of some very shady folks in the State Department, who (naturally) start brainstorming a method of properly exploiting their newfound red-white-and-blue-blooded star-power.
And that, kids, is Protocol in a nutshell. Though the title hasn’t exactly aged well since it first debuted, wherein it received less-than-stellar reviews (1984 was a hard act to follow, having given the theatrical births to awesome classics such as Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid, Gremlins, This is Spinal Tap, and Amadeus ‒ to say nothing of Breakin’!), the film is almost as innocent and naïve as its protagonist today when compared to the current political scene. An ignorant bimbo who has ne’er even so much as read the Constitution preaching politics on television is funnier when it’s fictional, whereas we struggle to find any humor when we see such things in real life.
Then again, Protocol‘s inability to take itself seriously is exactly what appealed to me. Even the ridiculously clichéd Hollywood climax where an unlikely grouping of colors, sexes, and creeds wind up partying at Mars’ bar seems joyous and hopeful after some of the messes we’ve seen made this year alone, such as Hawn coming out of semi-retirement to co-star in Amy Schumer’s Snatched, for example. Chockful of silly jokes and fashions most of us will not admit to having wore now, Herbert (Footloose) Ross’ delightfully dumb Protocol also features Chris Sarandon, Richard Romanus, Gail Strickland, Cliff DeYoung, and Ed Begley, Jr. Archie Hahn and two Cheers regulars, Paul Willson and John Ratzenberger, pop up for cameos.
Previously released as part of Warner Bros’ very first generation of DVDs (you know, those snapper case titles still being sold in bargain bins?), Protocol joins a very small and eclectic list of Warner catalog titles originally released in full frame/pan-and-scan that have finally been reissued on DVD in their intended aspect ratio. Now presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, Protocol still shows its fair share of visual imperfections, but it’s a vast improvement over what we had before. The disc is still a pretty barebones affair, offering little else than a clear Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and optional English (SDH) subtitles. If you’re already a fan, you’ll want to give this new transfer a look. Otherwise, you may want to rent it first.