Picks and Pans Review: Sunset

updated 05/16/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Darn if writer-director Blake Edwards hasn't gone and done it: Made another movie fiasco. Following Blind Date, A Fine Mess and That's Life, this woebegone whatchamacallit—starring Bruce Willis and James Garner—is the fourth bombola Edwards has dropped on the public in two years. Give us a break, Blake. You were once a master at drama (Days of Wine and Roses) and at comedy, both sophisticated (Breakfast at Tiffany's) and broad (10). What happened? This one seemed hard to mess up. There's big Jim Garner oozing charm as the real Wyatt Earp. It's 1929, and the marshal has come to Hollywood to serve as technical adviser on a movie about his life. To play Earp, the studio boys have signed silent Western star Tom Mix; that's Willis. Terrific setup. Terrible follow-through. Do we get laughs? Ha! Edwards has the real Earp and the movie cowboy visit a brothel just as a prostitute is brutally murdered. Real funny. Do we get suspense? No way. This movie would have to speed up to hit a snail's pace. Do we get good performances? Forget it. Garner and Willis go around like zombies, while the supporting cast—Mariel Hemingway as a madam in male drag, Malcolm McDowell as a sadistic studio boss—contort their faces in understandable confusion. A lot sinks in this Sunset, notably Edwards' once distinguished career. (R)

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