Picks and Pans Review: The Woman in Red

updated 09/03/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/03/1984 01:00AM

When it comes to criminal waste of time and talent, it would be hard to top this would-be romantic comedy, which Gene Wilder wrote, directed and stars in as a married, middle-aged advertising executive going through a pro forma mid-life crisis. Gilda Radner has a bit—she's scandalously under-employed—as a woman in Wilder's office who thinks she's going to benefit from the crisis. Stevie Wonder wrote and performs most of the soundtrack songs, which are more like fragments. (Having access to the ability of Stevie Wonder and trashing it in this way ought to be a capital offense.) The supporting cast includes Charles Grodin, Judith Ivey, Joseph Bologna and, as the woman in red whose appearance galvanizes Wilder's adulterous impulses, Kelly Le Brock, a stunning English-born model who in real life is married to the film's producer, Victor Drai. Despite all that it has going for it, the movie is spurious in the extreme. The only affecting moment comes in a brief scene where Wilder, having learned that his old crony, Grodin, is gay, attempts to comfort him. But that's like finding a pinhead-size dollop of caviar in a bathtub full of Jell-O. The film drones on through all the clichés of infidelity to a resolution that isn't emotionally, morally or comedically satisfying. It's all on the order of 86 minutes of foreplay that leads to a limp, sweaty handshake. (PG-13)

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