Review: Doctor Detroit (1983)

By James Ross –


Best Bad Quote:

“I’m white; I don’t even know what you are.”


When Dan Aykroyd looks back at all the bad films he’s made over the last 35 years I bet one of his favorites is Doctor Detroit (1983). For the simple fact that most people don’t know it exists. Bruce Jay Friedman, who also wrote Splash and Stir Crazy, wrote the film’s story. The screenplay was co-written by Friedman, Robert Boris and Carl Gottlieb (co-writer of JAWS). That last bit of information is interesting for the fact that those were successful, well-written films and this is a pile of late disco shit.


Dan Aykroyd portrays Professor Clifford Skridlow, a boring stuffed shirt academic who teaches chivalry and comparative literature at (fictional) Monroe College in Chicago. He enjoys speed walking, eating alone, and obscure foreign films. One night he has a chance encounter at a restaurant with four beautiful women (who happen to be prostitutes) and their pimp Smooth Walker (Howard Hessman).  Smooth is in trouble because of a huge debt he owes to a gruff mob boss named “Mom” (Kate Murtagh), a fat, butch, older lady. To get off the hook for the debt he invents a fictional business partner who is supposedly the baddest ass pimp in the Mid-West named Doctor Detroit. After meeting the shy, mild-mannered Skridlow he gives him a taste of the disco lifestyle. Or at least as much disco as was left in 1983. He is conned into playing the part of “The Doctor” to save his hoes in distress. So now he must struggle to keep this secret double identity from his straight-laced parents and the other members of the faculty. It’s a dangerous game he plays trying to dupe “Mom” and protect the hoes. But when I think “hero” of course Pimp is the first thing that comes to mind.


That’s the simple thing I just don’t understand about this film. Who thought a comedy about a Nerd turned Super-Pimp would be a good idea? Aside from the drama Hustle And Flow it’s hard to remember another film where a pimp was portrayed as a sympathetic character let alone a comedy. But that didn’t stop director Michael Pressman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze) from forging ahead with this loose adaptation of The Nutty Professor. They manage to find ways to shoehorn-in Aykroyd’s vocal and character versatility. Like a courtroom scene where he plays a Foghorn Leghorn-esque Southern lawyer defending one of the ladies of the evening. A few cheap racial jokes and some pimp and hoe humor is mostly what this film has to offer. Two of the hoochies are portrayed by (the eternally annoying) Fran Drescher and the future Mrs. Aykroyd, Donna Dixon. It’s all worth it to see Aykroyd in full Pimp regalia doing a choreographed dance with the attendees of the Annual Player’s Ball to James Brown’s “Get Up (Off Of That Thing)”. Aykroyd must have used his good relationship with Brown from The Blues Brothers’ movie to convince him to make a cameo in this turd. The other highlights of this lowbrow pimp comedy are T.K. Carter’s borderline racist portrayal of Diablo, Smooth and the Doctor’s driver and awful stereotype. As well as Aykroyd’s vocal choice for the Doc, which is somewhere between an old Granny with nasal congestion and Edward G. Robinson. This film is a guilty pleasure of mine, but it still ranks behind Spies Like Us and Dragnet on bad Aykroyd movies I love. Doctor! Ooh Ooh! Doctor-Detroit!



2 out of 5 Pimp Claws


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Review: Doctor Detroit (1983)”

  1. It sounds like there is a reason people don’t know this movie exists. “To get off the hook for the debt he invents a fictional business partner who is supposedly the baddest ass pimp in the Mid-West named Doctor Detroit.” Hilarious line. Because when I think bad ass pimps, I think the mid-west!

  2. Hey. I believe there’s something wrong with your links. I hope you can repair it!

Leave a Reply