Picks and Pans Review: Jennifer Eight

updated 11/16/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Uma Thurman, Andy Garcia, Kathy Baker, John Malkovich, Lance Henriksen

The title sounds like Steve Allen's "Question Man" routine: "What's the rest of the 'Mufly Fourteen...score?" and this is an equally silly film, blending the blind-beauty-stalked-by-psycho genre with the serial-killer and the urban-cop-moves-to-the-hinterland genres. It adds up to a jumpy thriller with more loose ends than a fringed jacket.

Garcia, in look-how-tough-I-am stubble, is a worn-out Los Angeles officer retired to a pastoral town. Then he encounters parts of a dismembered body he is sure is the work of a serial killer (he believes the corpse is the eighth victim). That leads him to interview Thurman, a teacher at a school for the blind where the girl whose parts Garcia found was a student.

Garcia begins lending with his fellow cops, including Henriksen, his partner. Then Malkovich shows up as an FBI agent with an unaccountable grudge against Garcia (And why is the FBI investigating a local murder?).

Writer-director Bruce Robinson sends the film rushing to a conclusion down a slope of flagrant coincidences. Even the respectable twist as to the killer's identity is diluted by all the theatrical goings-on (Malkovich's performance belongs between two slices of rye bread with some Swiss cheese and mustard) and by the lukewarm romance between Garcia and Thurman. Thurman, who has an affecting scene of consternation when Garcia, all but forgetting that she is blind, strands her in the middle of a party, and Baker, as Henriksen's wife and Garcia's fraternal friend, are the only ones who have much of a reason to be proud of themselves. (R)

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