Picks and Pans Review: Boomerang

updated 07/13/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/13/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens

An '80s sensibility meets '50s sitcom humor in this movie starring Murphy as a womanizing executive at a cosmetics company. He's got a great apartment, extensive gadgetry and a very successful seducer's line: noisome flattery, the proffering of a single rose and pretty lies.

The worm quite literally turns when Givens is hired as Murphy's boss in a job he had staked out as his own. Smitten, Murphy moves in for the kill only to learn that Givens is as callous with men as he is with women; she doesn't call him for weeks, is coolly indifferent to his feelings, discusses with her friends his performance in bed. In short, she treats him like a sex object.

While it's refreshing to see black characters portrayed in positions of consequence, this is basically a very tired tale of role reversal, revenge and redemption. There is a lack of inventiveness and cohesiveness to Boomerang, a fact apparently not lost on director Reginald (House Party) Hudlin and writers Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield (collaborators on Coming to America), who, uncertain how to move from one sequence to the next, end almost every scene with a fade-out.

Still, a blank screen is preferable to such shots as Grace Jones (as a haughty French model) removing her panties and throwing them at a man who has annoyed her, or of a middle-aged man whose finger licking at the dinner table is clearly not to be construed as praise for the meal. Givens plays a role couture-cut for her limited talent, that of a cooing femme fatale, but she is no more bearable for all that. The ravishing Halle Berry, one of the few bright spots in last year's Strictly Business, which Boomerang passingly resembles, is terrifically appealing as the woman Murphy comes to love.

Murphy can outmug anyone in the business, but however effective he is as a smart aleck, he is relentlessly unconvincing as a lovesick suitor. Those who can overlook Murphy's lapses and who enjoy scenes of unremitting crudity will find much to savor in Boomerang. Others are advised to belly up to another box office. (R)

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