Plot: Smooth Walker (Howard Hesseman) is a charismatic pimp who can talk his way out of any kind of trouble, but this time, he has found himself in a scenario that even he can’t seem to get out of. He has landed on the wrong side of Mom, a crime boss with no mercy who is determined to extract the sizable debt Smooth has run up, even it means putting him out of business for good. In a pinch, Smooth weaves a tale to save his own ass and claims that a new pimp in town, Doctor Detroit, is the one Mom wants, but of course, no such pimp exists. Before Mom uncovers the truth, Smooth has to line up a patsy to pose as Doctor Detroit and he targets Clifford (Dan Aykroyd), an uptight professor with a bright mind, but minimal social skills. After Smooth leaves town and Clifford embraces his new lifestyle, surrounded by beautiful women, what will happen when Mom shows up to collect?
Entertainment Value: An early lead role for Dan Aykroyd, Doctor Detroit dials up the zaniness and didn’t connect with audiences when it was first released, but has amassed a cult fan base in the decades since. The movie is pure silliness, but it knows that and never tries to be a serious experience, just a wild and wacky adventure with pimps, hookers, and of course, the realm of higher learning. But while Doctor Detroit is a silly 80s comedy, it does have great characters and some terrific dialogue, so this isn’t just random gags thrown into a blender. The colorful characters are a big reason the movie remains so memorable and since the dialogue is driven by those characters, it packs more of a comedic punch. The pace is also brisk, so there’s little downtime and the humor is on a consistent flow, though the movie does lose some momentum whenever Aykroyd isn’t around. The goofiness is bound to drive off some viewers, but I think the zany humor works more often than not.
Doctor Detroit was one of Dan Aykroyd’s first lead roles and he goes for broke, especially as he embraces the pimp persona. He turns up the volume and goes over the top, to manic levels of wackiness at times. His turn here is big, colorful, and broad, which is going to delight some and make others cringe. For me, I had fun watching him become Doctor Detroit, but I love wild performances. If you happen to be a big fan of Aykroyd, he shows his usual sense of humor, so you should have fun here. Howard Hesseman is also humorous when he is around, toned down a little compared to Aykroyd perhaps, but still a colorful role. And of course, a number of talented women are present here, with Donna Dixon, Fran Drescher, and Lynn Whitfield in prominent roles. Overall a bright cast that embraces the silly nature of the material. I can see why Doctor Detroit wasn’t an instant hit, but I think there’s lot to like here and the movie’s colorful wackiness can be quite fun if you’re open to it.