Remember that glorious 2 year stretch back in the late 80s when James Belushi, hot off performing with Second City and Saturday Night Live, was starring in all these hit Hollywood comedies? I can’t tell you how many times I watched “Red Heat”, “Mr. Destiny”, “Taking Care of Business” and the original “K-9” when I was a kid. But what has Belushi been doing since? When’s the last time you’ve seen his name above the title of the latest blockbuster? I mean, the guy is funny and likable, certainly more than your Freddy Prinze Jrs and Matthew Lillards, so why can’t they cast him in “Scooby-Doo” for instance?

After all, he’s obviously a dog person, as he shows again in “K-9: P.I.”, the heavily punctuated last title of the epic trilogy. This new sequel is nothing exceptional, but Belushi and his loyal German Shepherd Jerry Lee (currently portrayed by King) seem to be having a good time and to some degree, so does the audience. Belushi can be almost as enjoyable a goofball as Bill Murray, and as ridiculous as it sound, he’s got great chemistry with that dog!

The story is little more than a 100-monkeys-with-100-typewriters rehash of all the clichés of buddy cops movies, from the cop getting in big trouble just as he’s about to retire, the black police chief who likes to yell at his men, the retarded FBI agents who are only getting in the way of the “real” detectives, the obligatory romantic interest, the stock bad guys most busy with double-crossing each other… Add your share of shoot-outs and chases in either deserted warehouses or crowded night clubs and you’ve got a flick as unoriginal as it gets that you’ve seen dozens of times under different guises.

Then again, the film does have an enjoyable pair of leads in Belushi’s John Dooley and Jerry Lee, and the dynamic between them is almost enough to salvage the film. I love how Dooley is always talking and bickering with Jerry Lee as if he was just another buddy from work who just happens to be particularly hairy and smelly. Speaking of which, the subplot about Jerry Lee’s constipation and the constant flatulence that results is thankless, but on the other hand we get an amusing storyline where Dooley decides to breed Jerry Lee to make some quick cash. It’s not so easy though, as our big brown dog still prefers white bitches to German Shepherds!

“K-9: P.I.” is not the Great American Comedy, but if you liked the previous movies in the series, you’ll have a good time with this one too. Universal Home Entertainment is releasing it on July 30th 2002 on video and DVD. The DVD features an interesting little featurette on the history and making of the movies, cast and filmmaker biographies and a trailer.