Picks and Pans Review: Running Scared

UPDATED 06/30/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/30/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

This buddy comedy about two cops in Chicago is an efficient, entertaining time killer without a glimmer of originality. Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal work undercover, dress funky, talk dirty and play tough (see: Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop). Each takes turns playing straight man for the other guy's jokes (see: Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder's Stir Crazy). Their base is a bustling police precinct where they have to cope with a curmudgeon captain (Dan Hedaya), jealous rivals (Steve Bauer and Jonathan Gries) and heavy caseloads that have wrecked their respective marriages (see: TV's Hill Street Blues). The jobs they bungle are played for laughs (see: all three Police Academys), but when they mishandle a syndicate drug bust (see: Scarface), their livid boss boots them off the case (see: Dirty Harry). That's when the boys take off for an enforced vacation in Key West, which allows them plenty of time for biking, swimming, lusting and listening to music that will turn up on the sound-track album and in some MTV videos (see: nearly every big-studio movie of the last three years). They're soon back on the beat, of course, to participate in a spectacular car chase staged on Chicago's elevated train tracks (see: The French Connection). What makes the familiarity fun for much of the time is the puppyish charm of the two stars, though director Peter (2010) Hyams can't always hide the calculation behind the cuteness. Crystal promises to be the next Saturday Night Live alumnus to make the grade in flicks. His comic timing is expectedly mahvelous, but the surprise of his performance is the emotion he brings to the scenes with his ex-wife, touchingly played by the gorgeous Darlanne (To Live and Die in L.A.) Fluegel. Hines also does well, though this song-and-dance master is frittering away his formidable talents in a film that ignores them. Running Scared is no more than a serviceable job of packaging, further sad evidence that the new-model Hollywood comedy is manufactured almost entirely out of retooled parts. (R)

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