"Dragnet" is one of those movies I never got sick of as a kid, although it did take some growing up for me to get some of the more adult jokes ("Oh thank God...vibrator repair??"). Today, I still enjoy the hilarious banter between Dan Aykroyd as clean-cut Joe Friday, and Tom Hanks as "hipster freebird cop" Pep Streebeck. While Aykroyd has always been a comic genius, I think Hanks' slapstick talent has been underrated due to his super dramatic success. He was very funny in this film and other 80s films like "Big" and "The Money Pit."
The reason I don't give "Dragnet" five stars is the story problem. About halfway through, this movie becomes a sappy mess of a love story/kidnapping plot. It shifts focus from Friday and Streebeck trailing a bevy of PAGAN incidents to Joe trying to save the virgin Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul) from the evil Reverend Jonathan Whirley (played with slime by Christopher Plummer). The romance between Joe and Connie is dull, namely because Paul can't act her way out of a paper bag in this film. But Streebeck's antics without his partner, and Plummer's grinchy grin as he attempts dastardly deeds, save the second half from total destruction.
I believe "Dragnet" is not the dud that most critics make it out to be. It has some very funny moments and some witty dialogue. But it doesn't tie the comedy and drama/action together very well. In a way, it's almost like two different movies. One is fantastic and entertaining, while the other is a bit boring.
Don't expect a glitsy DVD with bucketloads of special features. I guess Universal reserves those special editions for "higher caliber" films. But enjoy the laughs anyway. Key moments: Friday and Streebeck go undercover, the officers meet Enid Borden, a trip to the zoo, chasing Emil Muzz, and a visit to the Bait Magazine mansion.