Charm can carry you far in life—and even farther in movies. Hogan. the aging Australian hunk who a decade ago promised to slip a shrimp on the barbie for visiting Yanks and who cleaned up at the box office here in '86 and '88 with his two Crocodile Dundee movies, is such a charming guy that he almost has you believing that this modest comic western, which he wrote and coproduced, is better than it is.
Jack, which follows the high jinks and adventures of a vain older gunfighter (Hogan) and his mute younger sidekick (Gooding Jr., guilty here of mugging outrageously and otherwise behaving like a cartoon character), is a happy surprise after Hogan's anemic last effort, 1990's Almost an Angel. Although not exactly up there with Cat Ballou and Blazing Saddles in the spurs-and-yucks pantheon, the movie has infectiously high spirits and some amusing bits, such as the farsighted Hogan's being unable to tell the $100 bills from the singles when he robs a bank.
Hogan's fellow Aussie, Simon Wincer, directed with the same warmth he brought to Free Willy. There are a couple of mildly suggestive sex scenes, but generally this is the sort of movie that families can see together—and come away from saying they had a good time. (PG-13)