Picks and Pans Review: A Time of Destiny

updated 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Condolences to Oscar winners William Hurt and Timothy Hutton, stuck here in the kind of epic gobbler actors spend years trying to live down. True pity, though, must be reserved for audiences forced to slog through this turgid World War II family saga. If the cool, Waspy Hurt sounds like quirky casting for the psychopathic son of a Basque immigrant (Francisco Rabal), wait till you see the apple-cheeked Hutton as the object of his sworn vengeance. In roles that call for De Niro and Pacino, we get Wally and the Beav. Hutton plays a poor GI who elopes with Hurt's lovely sister, All My Children alumna Melissa Leo. Papa Rabal, now the owner of a ranch in San Diego, chases his daughter to her honeymoon suite and guilt-trips her into riding home with him in a storm. He never makes it. Sure enough, what usually happens to troublesome characters in movies when they drive fast in bad weather on narrow roads surrounding a deep body of water happens to Pop (though Leo lives). Enter Hurt, the black sheep of the family. Angry that the patriarch who loathed him died without making nice, he decides to pick up on Dad's hatred for Hutton and kill the poor sap. Does he shoot, stab, strangle or mutilate him on sight? Hardly. That would mercifully shorten the film. Instead, Hurt gets himself assigned to Hutton's platoon on the Italian front, to become his best friend, see out the entire war with him and not do a darned thing except talk to himself menacingly in the mirror until they return home to California. There, in a shameless rip-off of the church rooftop climax of Hitchcock's Vertigo, every predictable thing that can happen does. This from director-writer Gregory Nava and co-writer—producer Anna Thomas, who collaborated so fruitfully on 1983's El Norte. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. (PG-13)

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