Respected television director James (Cheers) Burrows and La Cage Aux Folles screenwriter Francis Veber teamed up for this uneven comedy/drama that plays like a head-on collision of The Odd Couple and Cruising.
Ryan O’Neal stars as a homophobic detective who is paired with a gay cop (John Hurt) to find a murderer who kills gay men and takes photos afterwards. They go undercover in the gay community where the duo poses as a couple in order to catch the killer.
All of this is more or less predictable, but it’s still somewhat entertaining. Yeah we all know that by the end of the movie that O’Neal will learn that “Gays are people too”, but it’s handled with more sensitivity than say, Cruising. Just don’t expect it to win any GLAAD Awards any time soon. Sure the movie is politically incorrect, but at least the flick more or less treats it’s gay characters with a LITTLE dignity instead of reducing them to complete stereotypes.
Burrows only occasionally lets things lapse into broad comedy and quite surprisingly, the film actually works better as a buddy cop movie than as a comedy. By the time the cops begin to zero in on the killer though, the wheels start to fall off and things become increasingly clichéd. The identity of the killer is also painfully obvious from the get-go, which helps further drain the suspense from the final act.
O’Neal does a good job in the lead and gives a pretty brave performance for someone of his popularity at the time. Hurt does some fine work too and makes his character a fully fleshed out human being instead of a by-the-number standard issue
Whenever Partners is focusing on its characters, it works, but as the film wears on, it becomes more reliant on pointless clichés, which ultimately sinks it.
Partners is part of a trove of movies from the