Picks and Pans Review: Simon

updated 04/14/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/14/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

Simon says: "I'm a toaster." What nonsense! Simon says: "No more children named Free, Moonbeam, Sky, Rain." What sense. Written and directed by Woody Allen collaborator Marshall Brickman, this movie is loaded with sensible-sounding nonsense, reminiscent of (though not as funny as) Sleeper. The idea is promising: A group of heavy thinkers at the Institute for Advanced Concepts wonders how earthlings would react to an extraterrestrial visitor. So, quick as a computer can find a Columbia psychology professor named Simon Mendelssohn, he is transformed into a zany outer-space creature played by Alan Arkin. Max Wright is marvelous as a mad scientist. Brickman tees off on modern-day annoyances like Hawaiian music in elevators, diet books and drivers who block intersections. However, some jokes fall dreadfully flat, e.g., a commune that worships "the sacred box" and takes its Scripture from TV Guide. Brickman's barbs generally are amusing, but the sum of the parts doesn't quite constitute a comic whole. Woody, where were you? (PG)

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