Picks and Pans Main: Screen
With a little less sex and a lot less gore, the three segments in this mild chiller could have turned up on the syndicated TV series Tales From the Darkside. No wonder, since that series' co-producer, George (Night of the Living Dead) Romero wrote this screenplay. It is based on stories by Stephen King, but this collaboration has none of the inventive wit of the original King-Romero joint project, Creepshow. (This one is directed by Romero protégé Michael Gornick.) In one segment Lois Chiles plays a woman who kills a hitchhiker in a hit-run accident. While there is a certain scary stubbornness to the victim's determination to haunt her, most of the goings-on in this film suggest routine moviemaking. No film can be termed a shocker when its big surprise is the appearance of the sarong sweetie of those Crosby-Hope films, Dorothy Lamour. She and George Kennedy play owners of a small-town general store who are terrorized by three hoodlums until even their cigar store Indian statue—played by Dan Kamin in the most truly wooden performance of all time—seeks revenge. In the lame third segment, four college kids at a swimming hole encounter a carnivorous oil slick. King appears as a truck driver in one scene. But those who want to keep up with the King oeuvre may want to bring a flashlight so they can read one of his novels while watching this film. It's hardly worth devoting a whole attention span to. (R)
THREE FOR THE ROAD
At only 88 minutes, this movie is still an hour and a half too long. The only thing it has going for it is Charlie (Platoon) Sheen, and he seems to be just going through the motions. Sheen plays a junior aide to a tyrannical U.S. Senator, Raymond (Year of the Dragon) Barry. Barry is embarrassed by the high school pranks of his daughter, Kerri Green, and asks Sheen to drive her to a reform school in the South. Green, so good in Lucas, is woefully miscast as the troubled teen. It's impossible to believe that this adorable little thing could ruin her dad's campaign. She is so miscast that whatever potential there might have been for an interesting romance between her and Sheen is frittered away, though director B.W.L. (More American Graffiti) Norton tried to force the notion anyway. Sheen starts to feel sorry for Green when she tells him she hasn't seen her mom, Sally Kellerman, in eight years. So he takes her to see Kellerman, setting up a cynical dad vs. loving mom clash. Sheen got into this wreck before Platoon was released. One hopes his standards have improved. (PG)
BEVERLY HILLS COP II
Three years ago Eddie Murphy coupled his comic and acting talents and made a real crowd pleaser ($294 million) out of a patchwork plot about a Detroit cop invading Beverly Hills to avenge a buddy's murder. No reason this sequel shouldn't do as well. Just don't look too closely. Between the shoot-outs, scatology and misogynist sex jokes, you might notice that Murphy has turned into one slick Hollywood package. He's not acting this time, he's doing stand-up. The story for part II, credited to Murphy and his manager Robert Wachs, is obvious in its purpose: to show off Murphy showing off. He does character impressions (reggae psychic, delivery boy, pool cleaner at the Playboy mansion), hums The Dating Game theme and laughs louder than anyone at his own street-smart savvy. Every move is so calculated, the spontaneity goes out of the picture. Murphy has earned our good will in the past (48 HRS, Trading Places). Now he is merely trading on it. The supporting cast, including Judge Rein-hold, John Ashton and Ronny Cox, does little more than play stooges to Murphy's Mr. Cool. No one steals scenes from the star the way Bronson (Perfect Strangers) Pinchot—as Serge the art dealer—did in the original. Blond bombshell Brigitte Nielsen (Mrs. Sly Stallone) gives it a game go. Gorgeously long of leg (she's 6'), Nielsen is ideally cast as the Ms. Big of Crime, but she's never allowed to develop her character above the hemline. Director Tony Scott, following his pattern with Catherine Deneuve's chic vampire in The Hunger and Kelly McGillis' sexpot pilot trainer in Top Gun, treats women as soulless mannequins. The snickers Murphy gets at Nielsen's expense ("God, that's a big bitch") leave a nasty aftertaste. So does too much of this hard-sell sequel. Murphy may still be a sure thing at the box office, but this time he has shortchanged himself and his audience. (R)
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