Picks and Pans Review: Clean Slate

UPDATED 05/23/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/23/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

Dana Carvey, Valeria Golino, Michael Gambon, James Earl Jones, Kevin Pollak

Carvey is the most likable as well as the most talented of Hollywood's Saturday Night Live alumni, and that appeal carries this innocuous detective comedy, though not all that far.

While Carvey doesn't get to use any of his prodigious mimicking skills, he does exploit his aptitude for amusing befuddlement as a private eye who has a strange illness that erases his memory every time he goes to sleep.

The gorgeous, bright-eyed Golino, having perfected her seductive sidekick moves in the Hot Shot films, is an ingratiating comic complement as Carvey's client-girlfriend. Jones and Pollak are accomplished straight men as district attorney friends of Carvey's, and Gambon is a villain chasing a rare coin that more or less motivates the plot.

As it happens, though, producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck provided Carvey with little but a clever, if thin, concept and a decent cast.

The director, the heavy-handed Mick Jackson, showed the sense of humor of a brick in The Bodyguard and does little better with Clean Slate. Writer Robert King would have been better off letting Carvey improvise.

Like Carvey's 1990 movie, Opportunity Knocks, this comedy never generates anything more than a mild chuckle. But it never assaults an audience's sensibilities or insults its intelligence either. (PG-13)

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