Hot to Trot (1988) poster

Hot to Trot (1988)


USA. 1988.


Director – Michael Dinner, Screenplay – Hugo Gilbert & Stephen Neigher, Story – Gilbert, Neigher & Charlie Peters, Producer – Steve Tisch, Photography – Victor J. Kemper, Music – Danny Elfman, Makeup Effects – Chris Walas, Production Design – William Matthews. Production Company – Warner Brothers.


Bobcat Goldthwait (Fred Chaney), John Candy (Voice of Don), Dabney Coleman (Walter Sawyer), Virginia Madsen (Alison Rowe), Jim Metzler (Boyd Osborne), Cindy Pickett (Victoria Payton)


Following the death of his mother, bumbling idiot Fred Chaney inherits half of the family stockbroking firm and a horse. He is startled when the horse Don, which has learned to speak human, talks to him. Fred’s stepfather, the ruthless Walter Sawyer, offers Fred $525 for his half of the firm, but Fred decides he will manage it himself. Sawyer resolves that he will financially ruin Fred. However, with the help of Don who has picked up valuable tips about the stockmarket from the brokers who visit the stables, Fred is able to make a success of the business, even further angering Sawyer.

The talking horse theme is one that has proven surprisingly popular on film. Hot to Trot is one of these incarnations. It offers a reworking of all the gags that were done to death by the inexplicably popular Francis (1950) and sequels about a talking mule and the tv series Mr Ed (1961-6). It is a genuine puzzle what audiences possibly see in the single-gag idea of a talking horse, nevertheless Francis managed to produce six sequels and Mr Ed stayed on air for five seasons. In particular, the latter half of the plot here seems to have been taken from much of the second Francis film Francis Goes to the Races (1951).

Hot to Trot is an excruciating one-note, one-joke effort that plumbs some truly abysmal depths. One comes out at the end totally stunned by the moronic mugging, blinking and gibbering of Bobcat Goldthwait. Goldthwait was a former stand-up comic and good friend of Robin Williams who came to fame in the Police Academy films.

Bobcat Goldthwait and Don the horse in Hot to Trot (1988)
Bobcat Goldthwait and Don the horse

It shall remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 1980s as to exactly how he has managed to end up on the wrong side of a psychiatric institution. (Hot to Trot was thankfully his only starring role. From the 1990s onwards, Goldthwait has become a director, making several films of biting satire, including one genre film Willow Creek (2013), a not uninteresting and serious effort about Bigfoot).

Not quite as awful, but still pretty stupid is Dabney Coleman’s aggressive performance, which is okay in itself but for the fact that he has chosen to play it all through an ill-fitting pair of false buck teeth. Incredibly unfunny.

Michael Dinner has only directed one other film with the comedy The Crew (2000) and has mostly worked as a director/producer in television since then.

Trailer here

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