Picks and Pans Review: Moving

updated 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Putting Richard Pryor into this tame sitcom of a movie is like turning a jaguar into a house pet. Screenwriter Andy Breckman, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, seems to have run out of ideas once he had thought up the basic premise. Director Alan (Back to School) Metter doesn't add anything in the way of comic tone. Yet the film seems diverting, like a not-too-great joke told by someone very likable. Maybe it's time to salute a casting director: Marion Dougherty, who rounded up a most appealing group of actors. This film, about a transportation engineer who moves his family from New Jersey to Idaho, hardly exploits Pryor's vast talent; even doing just-restrained reactions though, he is hard to dislike. Beverly (Baby Boom) Todd shows a quiet charm as Pryor's wife and Stacey (Enemy Territory) Dash, as his daughter, may be the prettiest teenage actress since Brooke Shields started showing her age. Randy Quaid is Pryor's raucous bully of a neighbor. SCTV's Dave Thomas is Pryor's solicitous new boss. Saturday Night Live's Church Lady, Dana Carvey, as a guy with a multiple personality disorder whom Pryor hires to drive his new car cross-country, turns in three terrific, two good and three mediocre performances. The plot meanders through predictable problems with movers, selling the old house and persuading Dash to leave her new boyfriend. The we've-got-to-get-out-of-this-somehow ending is just silly. If it's looked upon as an updated, extended episode of Ozzie and Harriet, though, with a little swearing added, it can pass as entertainment. (R)

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