Hal Ashby's seminal '70s film has career sailors Buddusky (Nicholson) and Mulhall (Young) escorting a younger convicted enlistee named Meadows (Quaid) from Virginia to New Hampshire for an eight year sentence in the stockade. Taking pity on the painfully naïve, benumbed young man, the two older men resolve to show Meadows a wild time en-route, in the hopes of making his upcoming incarceration bearable. But are they really doing it for Meadows, or is to ward off their own feelings of imprisonment?
This gritty, wildly profane movie is equal parts funny and tragic, a tricky balance director Ashby sustains throughout. The Academy Award-nominated Quaid is wonderfully dim and pathetic as perennial loser Meadows, but Nicholson's performance as Buddusky is a revelation, easily up to his better-known work in "Carnal Knowledge" and "Chinatown" (it earned him his third Oscar nod in four years). This "Detail" is definitely worth enlisting for.