Picks and Pans Review: Cops and Robbersons

updated 04/25/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/25/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Chevy Chase, Dianne Wiest, Jack Palance, Robert Davi

What has happened to Chase? Was he ever funny, or were we all just a whole lot dumber a decade or two ago? In this movie he flops and flails as desperately and ineffectively as he did on his awful late-night talk show. Even his patented stumble-bum routine, once a glory of tangled limbs, funny falls and upended furniture, has been reduced to a sorry bit about trying to remove a gooey glop of cream cheese from a bagel. With chase less is definitely not more.

Cops and Robbersons is about the supposedly zany shenanigans that ensue when a grizzled cop (Palance) and his studly rookie partner (David Barry Gray) bunk down with a typical suburban family, the Robbersons (Chase, Wiest and their three movie children), while staking out a counterfeiter living next door. It is only fitfully—and tepidly—amusing. This movie's greatest sin, though, is that it is being advertised as a family picture despite scenes in which a man is blown to bits in his car and kids are held hostage at gunpoint.

Michael Ritchie, once a promising director (The Candidate, Smile), does little to help this anemic comedy, although he does allow the ever wistful Wiest a few moments of antic glory and he gets a refreshingly witty performance out of Davi as the villain. As for Palance, all squinty eyes and guttural whispers, he's just faxing in a variation on his geezer cow poke from City Slickers. (PG)

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