Picks and Pans Review: A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon

updated 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Here is a troubling philosophical question: Is it better to have a teen coming-of-age comedy with lots of jokes about drugs, sex, vomiting and brawls, or a teen coming-of-age comedy with no jokes at all. Heavy, eh? Whatever the cosmic implications, writer-director William (Winter Kills) Richert has elected the second choice in this desultory tale taken from his own 1966 novel. It is essentially about a suburban Chicago boy who has just graduated from high school and faces a tormented future: He is the main character in a movie with no visible means of appealing to an audience. River (Standby Me) Phoenix plays this hopeless guy—he lies, he cheats, he's dumb, he whines, he casually totals his dad's car, he is a twerp, he is an absolute zero in the redeeming quality department. When he is seduced in a dreary scene by his mother's friend, Ann (Making Mr. Right) Magnuson, it seems not sexy but pathetic that a grown woman would sleep with this juvenile. The movie's high point comes when he gets pummeled by a standard Hollywood-issue collegiate jock type in a scuffle over Phoenix's girlfriend, Meredith (The Journey of Natty Gann) Salenger. The only thing Richert has accomplished is to provide something that kids and adults should easily be able to agree on: This film is a bore. (R)

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