Picks and Pans Review: High Spirits

updated 12/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Peter O'Toole's panache has steadied many a shaky film comedy—try My Favorite Year. Daryl Hannah's beauty hardly hurt Splash or Roxanne. Liam Neeson set hearts aflutter in The Good Mother. And Beverly D'Angelo and Steve Guttenberg have often proved sprightly supporting players. Plugging these live wires into a farce about American tourists in a haunted Irish castle should yield high-voltage humor. But the circuits have shorted. Writer-director Neil (Mona Lisa) Jordan has said he is "troubled" that the producers recut his film to emphasize laughs at the expense of character. From the looks of things, Jordan's discontent is justified. Nobody takes a breath in this madhouse. They spin about in a frenzy that succeeds only in exhausting them and the audience. As the castle owner about to lose his property to a bank, O'Toole looks drained by the rampant foolishness. Hannah and Neeson show more life as ghosts who've been dead for 200 years. He murdered her in a fit of jealousy on their wedding night. Guttenberg, unhappily married to nagging heiress D'Angelo, finds Hannah's old-fashioned ways more appealing. D'Angelo thinks Neeson is sexier than her bland husband. Trouble is, Guttenberg and D'Angelo have a problem showing sexual affection to love objects made of thin air. In this castle, the ghosts regain their human form only once a year. The dead come to life on Halloween night. The movie never makes it. (PG-13)

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