Picks and Pans Review: From the Hip

updated 03/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/09/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Although he's only 27, Judd Nelson is already in serious need of career counseling. Watching him act is like listening to the neighborhood boor at a cocktail party: You can't believe anyone has so little awareness of how he comes off. After The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire, Nelson probably should have avoided playing offensive fellows, but in this yuppie courtroom drama he again exercises his nostrils (if not his craft) as a contemptible attorney. Defending a professor who might also be a psycho murderer, Nelson must confront the moral ambiguity of the judicial system—something done more convincingly every week on L.A. Law. Self-absorbed and self-destructive, Nelson is loathsome. He likes guerrilla tactics such as pulling out a vibrator in court to make a point. "You're like one of those cute little performing seals," observes John Hurt, who shames Nelson with a riveting performance as the acid-tongued academic. Nelson doesn't have the range to seduce an audience when he's playing a repugnant character. Unlike Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller, for instance, he can't redeem a jerk with charisma, although Nelson postures as if his antics were ingratiating. Instead, he's just scary. It's macabre to see an actor this young having to try to rehabilitate his reputation. Bob (Porky's) Clark directed, allegedly. (PG)

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