Picks and Pans Review: Bird on a Wire

updated 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Mel Gibson, Goldie Hawn

There is an informal rule of moviegoing which says that the entertainment value of any film is inversely proportional to the number of chase scenes and "Oh, s—-"s it contains. This caper movie has five chase scenes—one car, one motorcycle, one airplane-helicopter and two running (one with tigers). It includes five "Oh, s—-"s and one plain "S—." Its entertainment value is thus, obviously, into the infinitesimal area.

Gibson and Hawn are so appealing they buy a lot of indulgences. At, for instance, the outrageous coincidence that's crucial to the plot: Not having seen each other for 15 years (she thinks him dead), they meet at a gas station in a strange city.

Gibson, it happens, disappeared because he testified in a drug case and is in a witness protection program. Hawn has become a New York lawyer, been married and divorced and has a boyfriend to whom she delivers the movie's only funny line: "You know how you said you wanted to have sex with me in some weird place? How about Detroit?" She has met Gibson again just as unforgiving villains have tracked him down.

Director John (Stakeout) Badham stages a couple of clumsy flashback scenes showing Gibson and Hawn as postcollegiate hippies but mostly just keeps them on the run. Writers David (Punchline) Seltzer and newcomers Louis Venosta and Eric Lerner never redeem the implausibility of their script. They even make Gibson seem like a cowardly cad, having him run out on a former woman friend, Joan (Hear No Evil, See No Evil) Severance, during a gunfight.

Playing Detroit and New York City, as well as Racine, Wis., is a real stretch for the Vancouver area, where the movie was shot, but nobody else extends himself. Goldie and Mel will no doubt be forgiven, but they've used up a lot of clout here. (PG-13)

From Our Partners