The Rookie (1990)

As a script consultant and script writer for hire as guilty viewing pleasures go The Rookie (1990) must be right up there, and I’ll try to justify why I like it so much in this blogpost, but really I just like it as simple straightforward action film, it makes me laugh and I’m a bit nostalgic for old cop/buddy films

Okay, here’s the script writing bit (where I try to justify liking the film so much)– The Rookie has a very funny knowing circular script structure. In a scene early in the film Clint meets his new partner played by Charlie Sheen. In the scene Clint is disrespectful, rude and talks down to Charlie, plays a cruel trick on him and then leaves with Charlie scuttling after him like a toddler.

In the final scene of The Rookie, Clint’s character is now chief of Police, and Charlie enters Clint’s office to meet his new partner, and is disrespectful, rude and talks down to the newbie, plays a cruel trick on her and then leaves with the new partner scuttling after him like a toddler. It’s pretty much word for word the earlier scene. Except now, Charlie (having learned the ropes from Clint) is the top cop.

So, that’s a circular bit of storytelling.  Alongside this circular structure, we also have some choice running gags.  Clint’s character is a cigar smoker, who never has a lighter.  And Charlie’s character buys doughnuts with the little sprinkles on, which Clint’s character hates.   These two gags are played constantly throughout the film (and appear in the final scene too) they’re simple gags, but work on ‘the comedy rule of three’ – not funny at first, second time slightly more amusing – third time these gags play they actually work as ‘funny’ .

Script wise, Charlie has a back story as a spoiled rich boy who feels guilty for his brother’s death as a child.  Clint’s back story involves being a motorbike speed racer who never made the big time.

The film has a fair bit of well photographed action and the baddies are Raul Julia and Sonia Braga – (so you get value for money there).  The rest is a by the book action picture, it even has a throwback style 70s score (which I love).

So, yes, not a lot to recommend it otherwise, but once every few years I watch it, and I find the closing scene hilarious!  It’s a simple film, and doesn’t have any aims of high art or great significance, but it’s pretty entertaining… and it’s hard enough to get that right.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.

You can contact Matthew directly to purchase his ebook The UK Soap Opera Script Writers Handbook.

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham was released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

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