Picks and Pans Review: Car 54, Where Are You?
As funny as an old filling that cracks, this pathetic sub-comedy is another attempt to dig up a bad old TV series, in this case a wretched one whose saving grace was the presence of Fred Gwynne, who maintained his dignity even while playing one of the two New York City cops whose bumbling was all the series had as a premise. (Joe E. Ross, with his "ooh-ooh" and bulging eyes, was the other.)
In this film, McGinley has the straight-man role. But there's nothing to work with in this screenplay, which is devoted mostly to sadistic slapstick and such comic ideas as having two characters argue by saying, "Did!" "Didn't!" "Did!" "Didn't!"
Perhaps the best performance comes from Baldwin, who seems to be the Baldwin brother with the sense of humor. He does a kind of modified De Niro as a claustrophobic Mafia don hunting a witness that Johansen and McGinley are guarding. Al Lewis provides fun too, reprising his role (the dyspeptic Leo Schnauzer) from the TV series. (PG-13)