Picks and Pans Review: Mother's Boys

updated 04/11/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/11/1994 01:00AM

Jamie Lee Curtis., Peter Gallagher, Joanne Whaller-Kilmer

Just think: Curtis started her career playing innocent women terrorized by maniacs in blood-spattered chillers such as Halloween and Terror Train. Now, some 15 years later, she is the one playing the wacko. Okay, so that's not a world-class irony, but it's something to occupy your mind while watching this overheated thriller.

Curtis is a spoiled rich woman who returns to town three years after abandoning her husband and three young sons. During her absence, Dad (Gallagher) has started divorce proceedings and become engaged to the kids' assistant principal (Whalley-Kilmer). This seriously displeases Curtis, who recruits her boys to help knock off Dad's fiancée. There's potential here for something deliciously creepy. But by the time Curtis tries to shove Whalley-Kilmer off a cliff, the movie has long since gone over the deep end into dopey improbability.

At least Curtis seems to be having fun, prancing around in tiny miniskirts and purring, "I want my family back, all of it" Gallagher has an interesting edginess in early scenes, but is eventually reduced to merely looking worried or frantic. When Vanessa Redgrave shows up briefly as Curtis's rightfully suspicious mom, it's as if Queen Elizabeth had decided to drop in on the Bobbin trial. (R)

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