Picks and Pans Review: Quarantine

updated 08/07/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Sat., Aug. 5, 8 p.m. ET)

Last year he was only a small-town fire chief battling mutant snakes in TBS's Silent Predators. Does Harry Hamlin have the gravitas to be President of the United States in this wacky disaster movie about a world-threatening virus?

The poll numbers are encouraging. According to his wife (Susan Hogan), President Kempers (Hamlin) enjoys an "all-time-high" approval rating. But there's a note of negativity coming from his daughter (Joelle Carter), a Duke University student who complains when job responsibilities keep Dad from helping her move into the dorm. Meanwhile, brilliant scientist Galen Bronty (Nastassja Kinski) gets grief from her adolescent daughter (Brittney Irvin) for failing to attend a school soccer game. Yes, it's the familiar story: The President and Dr. Bronty may be somewhat concerned with the clear and present danger that a disease unleashed by an East European terrorist group (agenda unspecified) will depopulate the globe, but parenting remains their No. 1 priority.

As the spreading virus sets off panic (with the obligatory scenes of rioting in the streets), the President goes into protective isolation with his top advisers on an island off the coast of Washington State (a strategic location, since the film was shot in British Columbia). Back at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the bug gets loose inside the building, motivating Dr. Bronty and her colleagues to find a cure before they all die. Perhaps envious that the scientists have a greater opportunity for heroism, the President says, "If only I could do more..." Soon the Chief Executive literally dives into the fight against viroterrorism, leading the CIA director to deliver the film's most memorable line: "Nice hands, Mr. President!"

To spin this positively, Quarantine can be enjoyed as a spoof whether or not it was intended as one.

Bottom Line: Disaster strikes again

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