Picks and Pans Review: Loverboy

updated 05/22/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/1989 01:00AM

Patrick Dempsey, Kate Jackson

Director Joan Micklin (Crossing Delancey) Silver might have been forgiven for the parts of this insulting, uniformly charmless movie that suggest all men are faithless and stupid. It is more surprising, however (and some might say treasonous), that she also seems determined to prove that all women are desperate and stupid.

Her hero—and she does make him a hero—is Dempsey, as a feckless college kid who becomes a male whore. He even has a pimp, a buddy who works at the same pizza place he does. The buddy keeps track of Dempsey's dates and the profits he earns from sleeping with dozens of pathetic, middle-aged women.

Never mind that Dempsey is, at his most debonair moments, a twerp on wheels. Never mind AIDS. Never mind intelligent satire. This is a sex comedy without any sex, a comedy of manners without manners and a romantic comedy without any romance.

Screenwriters Robin Schiff, Tom Ropelewski and Leslie Dixon have the collective sense of humor of a pothole. They're not above cheap antigay, anti-Italian jokes, and their idea of a clever line is having Dempsey's buddy say to him: "I come on to every girl that walks, and they throw up. You go out, and every one you meet says, 'Take me from behind on a trapeze.' " Then there's the implicit joke in the climactic sequence, which has to do with incest between Dempsey and Kate Jackson, who plays his mother.

Jackson plays her part in a whispery, slow-motion way, as if she hopes nobody will notice her. Similarly demeaned are Carrie Fisher, Kirstie Alley and Barbara Carrera as three of Dempsey's clients; Robert (Exterminator) Ginty, as Dempsey's father, is painfully mannered.

The opening credits by Sally Cruikshank and Ted and Gerry Woolery are terrific—as slick an animated main-title sequence as the first Pink Panther. After that, it's a demoralizing slide into Silver's world of floozies and mashers. Everyone would be better off out in the lobby playing video games. (PG-13)

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