You know you’re in for it the second Christian Slater cocks an eyebrow at the camera and starts talking directly to the audience. Playing an aimless young man who becomes a San Francisco Patrol Service officer, Slater doesn’t have anything earth-shattering to say (”Sure have to make some serious choices in life, don’t you?”), but his rambling confessions are simply meant to be an exercise in postteen ”attitude.”
Kuffs is a washout — not to mention a terrible title (it sounds like something you’d call your dog). The movie spends its entire running time trying to convince you it’s something other than a cheesy heap of cop-thriller clichés. Here, the clichés are camouflaged — shamelessly — in window dressing from assorted ’80s hits. There’s Slater’s Ferris Bueller , monologues. There are the Risky Business dance scenes and the 48 HRS. buddy-fistfight scenes. There’s the bouncy Harold Faltermeyer synth-pop soundtrack, a minor-key knockoff of his music from Beverly Hills Cop. There’s even an oversize canine lifted from the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy, Turner & Hooch.
Slater, with his heartthrob smirk, has obviously read (and believed) one too many reviews hailing him as the junior-league Jack Nicholson. Yes, his voice carries echoes of joker Jack’s overdeliberate croak. But Slater would do well to realize that it was the emotion behind the rasp-the anger and giddy daring-that made Nicholson a star. Attitude used to be something you earned instead of just tried on like a baseball cap. D+