Hot To Trot (1988)

Bobcat Goldthwait stars as – woah, let’s stop it right there! Whenever you come across a film synopsis that includes the phrase, “Bobcat Goldthwait stars”, you know you’re in for cinematic sucktitude. Sure he’s one of the better aspects of the Police Academy sequels, but that’s like saying being drugged is one of the better aspects of date rape. The man’s screechy/awkward/creepy act is barely tolerable in minor parts. With this starring role it gets stale faster than you can say “horse apples.”

When Bobcat’s wealthy mother dies, he inherits half her brokerage firm, much to the chagrin of his greedy, philandering stepdad, Dabney Coleman, who’s forced to suffer the indignity of wearing buckteeth and giant glasses that make him look like a Japanese stereotype from World War II propaganda.

Me so solly fo lacist steleotype!

But more importantly, Bobcat inherits a talking horse named Don, voiced by John Candy, who provides him with stock tips that make him a big shot on Wall Street! And when Bobcat moves into a swanky penthouse, the horse moves in with him! And Odd Couple-esque antics ensue! Stop pinching yourself: this is a real movie!

Hot to Trot’s advertising campaign makes the astounding claim of being the “funniest talking horse movie ever made.” While technically true, it’s not exactly a crowning achievement. I guess the far-superior Francis the Talking Mule movie series doesn’t count. ‘Cause it stars a mule, not a horse.

This is an actual Francis movie. No Photoshop trickery. I swear.

This mule of a movie follows the Francis story template exactly:

  1. Unlucky schlub acquires equine.
  2. Said equine reveals to schlub its ability to speak.
  3. Equine only speaks to schlub, unless talking to someone else results in misunderstanding-based zaniness (preferably when that someone else mistakes the equine’s voice for that of the schlub).
  4. Equine’s sage advice (gleaned from overhearing schlub’s co-workers/superiors/enemies articulate their plans – always conveniently in or near horse stables – or from discussions with other animals) enables schlub to succeed despite his own ineptitude.
  5. (Optional) Schlub’s rivals discover that his advisor is a horse. Schlub is assumed insane.
  6. Equine makes grand reveal of its ability to speak.

Who’da thunk a talking equine movie would have such a strict and unyielding narrative structure! It’s worse than Haiku.

When Bobcat refuses to sell his half of the business to his step dad, he’s kicked out of the family mansion – which looks EXACTLY like the mansion from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!”

Bobcat is the Jazz to Dabney’s Uncle Phil

It’s at this point that Don the Horse reveals to Bobcat his ability to speak (“We gotta talk”) and the two set off on a road trip of self-discovery. Along the way, Don elaborates on his speaking ability: “I speak human, giraffe, worm, toad, whale – humpback and sperm. You might say I’m a four-legged Dr. Doolittle.” Don follows this factoid with a full minute of disturbing maniacal cackling. Was John Candy paid in cocaine?

This is starting to look an awful lot like the awful Theodore Rex

They visit Don’s family, who seem to own their own farm! Don comes from a family of talking horses. You read correctly, an ENTIRE FAMILY OF TALKING HORSES! WHO OWN THEIR OWN FARM! And instead of having a horseshoe nailed over the barn door, they have a human’s shoe! I’ve hit the absurdity jackpot!

We meet Don’s Three Stooges-obsessed brother Lou, who has his mane trimmed into a Moe Howard-esque bowl cut, yet talks like Curly – complete with “Soytainly’s”, “Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck’s” and “Woobwoobwoobwoobwoobwoob’s.”

With a name like Lou wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to be obsessed with (Bud) Abbott and (Lou) Costello?)

We also meet Don’s bitter dying father, voiced by Burgess Meredith. It’s bad enough that Mr. Meredith’s Mickey character was written out of the Rocky series, but now he has to suffer the indignity of appearing in a talking horse movie. Strangely enough, that’s the second time I’ve used the expression “suffer the indignity” in this review. I have a strong feeling it won’t be the last. It’s interesting to note that Mr. Meredith was uncredited for his role in this film. Probably at his own request.

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