Picks and Pans Review: Who's Harry Crumb?

updated 02/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

As a private-eye spoof, this John Candy vehicle is nowhere near as sustained as Bob Hope's My Favorite Brunette or Steve Martin's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. It is also full of annoyingly blatant commercial plugs and moronic, unnecessary obscenities. There's an amiable quality to Candy's lumbering attempt to solve the kidnapping of a tycoon's gorgeous daughter, though, and there are some enjoyable supporting performances. Jeffrey (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) Jones makes a crocodilian villain as the boss of Candy's detective agency—and the head kidnapper. Annie (TV's Designing Women) Potts flounces around sexily as the kidnap victim's stepmother. Shawnee (The Blob) Smith, as the victim's neglected younger sister, strikes a bemused attitude; she appears to be having such a good time, her lines ("You get paid for this?" she asks Candy incredulously) seem funnier than they are. Director Paul (18 Again!) Flaherty is an old SCTV pal of Candy's, and the brother of SCTV comic Joe Flaherty, who has a brief bit in this film. He and screenwriters Robert Conte and Peter Martin Wortmann (in their first produced script) dwell on slapstick and ignore a lot of possibilities. It's a waste, for instance, to spoof detective films without giving the private eye a romantic interest. Where is Roseanne Barr when you need her? There are a few turns. When Candy leaves his office in Tulsa to head for Los Angeles, the transition scene begins with the standard jet-taking-off shot, except that the jet just flies over the ramshackle bus Candy is riding in. Most of the time, Candy has to try to get laughs out of crashing into things or with such jokes as a confusion between "philodendron" and "philanderer." He brings enough of them off that, while he still appears to be a Hardy in search of his Laurel, this film ranks in the middle of the Candy oeuvre. It's not as feeble as Armed and Dangerous or Summer Rental, not as funny as his work in Splash or Planes, Trains and Automobiles. (PG-13)

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