Picks and Pans Review: The Survivors

updated 07/25/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/25/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Two men are sitting in a cheap diner in New York City. One of them, Robin Williams, is moaning that he has just lost his once lucrative salesman's job. The other, Walter Matthau, is out of work too; his gas station blew up. Then in strides Jerry Reed; he's been fired from his job as a mob hit man and has to resort to common stickups. The fun is supposed to start here, but what could have been an amusing comedy about the tribulations of the unemployed turns out to be as funny as a two-hour wait in a soup kitchen. Director Michael (The Bad News Bears) Ritchie and screenwriter Michael (TV's Taxi) Leeson turn the plot into a pallid chase, with Reed in pursuit of Williams and Matthau because he knows they have seen his face. Williams, in desperation, joins a survival training course. Matthau just wants to hide out. If that sounds like the movie is all over the lot, it sounds right. Williams displays his customary energy, complete with self-generated sound effects. Matthau is laconic, and Reed has some nicely turned moments—a seemingly calm conversation while he holds a loaded gun to Matthau's head, for instance. Kristen Vigard, 19, a Guiding Light alumna who plays Matthau's daughter, is appealing. But the film is too unfocused; it's not something the cast will want to feature on their résumés. (R)

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