All new adventures of laurel and hardy: for love or mummy

Earnest attempt at nostalgia, this comedy from directors John Cherry (“Ernest Goes to Camp”) and Larry Harmon (one of the original Bozo the Clowns) reminded me of one of my favorite duo comedies, “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Not that this film comes even close in terms of outright hilarity, it does have a sturdy foundation and decent performances.


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Bronson Pinchot and Gailard Sartain play nephews of the famous comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Like in the Abbott & Costello film, they play movers assigned to transport an Egyptian mummy to a museum. All hell breaks loose when the mummy tries to mate with an archaeologist named Leslie (Susan Danford), forcing the boys to come to her rescue. It’s all done with affection, and while it’s not nearly as good as the real thing, it’s not a bad effort. (Monarch)

DEAN KOONTZ’S MR. MURDER (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Stephen Baldwin is effective as a family man whose comfortable existence is interrupted when his clone decides to take over his life. Sure, it sounds preposterous, but this mini-series based on the novel by Dean Koontz is on the level, and is at times honestly chilling. Husband and father Marty Stillwater doesn’t know he has a clone. His name is Alfie, and he is the byproduct of an experiment by an evil madman who wants to create the perfect hit man. When Alfie decides he wants a life of his own, he decides to track down his unsuspecting DNA donor and take his. Veteran television director Dick Lowry does an excellent job of moving everything along, while the cast invests themselves completely. Baldwin is especially good as two different versions of himself. (Trimark)

EARTHLY POSSESSIONS (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Susan Sarandon is on the run from the law again. This time she’s the hostage of a bank robber who desperately needs money for his pregnant girlfriend. Sarandon is sensational in director James Lapine touching and literate romantic road trip, based on the novel by Anne Tyler. The screenplay by Steven Rogers (Hope Floats) is filled with intelligent exchanges of dialogue and just enough motivation to make it believable. Sarandon plays Charlotte Emory, a woman on the verge of leaving her husband. Her plans are altered when she is taken hostage during a botched bank robbery. She finds herself on the run with a young man named Jake (Stephen Dorff), hoping from one stolen car to another in an attempt to stay ahead of the law. Charlotte and Jake learn that they’re from two different worlds, but that doesn’t stop them from developing feelings for each other. Lapine does an excellent job of pacing the film, while the actors more than rise to the occasion. (HBO)

FORBIDDEN SINS (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)The weekly Shannon Tweed sexual thriller is pretty much what you expect. She plays a beautiful defense attorney (Okay, and Marlon Brando is skinny) whose latest client is a bastard of a millionaire accused of killing a stripper during his kinky sex games (you’re not a bastard millionaire unless you’re involved in kinky sex games). While Maureen Doherty (Tweed) tries to get her client off (hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink), she butts heads with the police detective assigned to the case. Oh yeah, get this. He’s also her ex-husband. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? You know the rest. (Columbia-TriStar)

GO (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Off-beat black comedy about 24 hours in the lives of three groups of people. Directed by Doug Liman (“Swingers”) from a complex, multi-layered script by John August, “Go” is the perfect example of how to make a clever film without looking clever. Some directors show off to the point of annoyance, yet Liman and August create an experience that requires certain cinematic devices that actually work in the films favor. The film takes place in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and unlike other films that could just as easily take place anywhere else, the film has a distinct look and style. Liman, who also shot the film’s breakneck cinematography, does an outstanding job of creating energy. The film is a testament to the director’s ability to pump up the action without losing character intimacy. Even though the film and characters reflect the current trend of filmmaking (inspired by Quentin Tarantino), Liman makes them his own, and each is a delight to spend time with. Among the standouts are Sarah Polley as a supermarket clerk whose encounter with two soap opera stars leads to an evening of complications, and Desmond Askew and Taye Diggs as two friends who wind up in Las Vegas and in trouble with the owners of a strip club. (Columbia-TriStar)

IDLE HANDS (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)“Idle Hands” was the teen horror thriller that got bounced from it’s Spring release date after the Columbine High School shootings. The thought of a teenager going on a killing spree, even reluctantly, hit too close to the bone. The studio could have held off releasing the film altogether, and I doubt anyone would have cared. Directed and co-written by Rodman Flender, “Idle Hands” is a dark horror comedy about an average teenage wasteland who learns that his hand has been possessed by a serial killer. Teenage heartthrob Devon Sawa (well, I read it somewhere) stars as Anton Tobias, who wakes up one morning to find his parents dead. At first he suspects a serial killer, but then his hand starts taking on a life all its own, killing anyone who gets in its way. It’s not long before the bodies start piling up, or returning from the dead to haunt Tobias (including Seth Green of “Austin Powers”). It’s supposed to be funny, but it’s not. It’s supposed to be scary, but it’s not. So what does that leave? (Columbia-TriStar)

SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY (R)

vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Director Adam Bernstein melds together several genres to deliver a black comedy about the mob and mothers. Norman Reedus is excellent as Harry Odum, a likeable teenager who accompanies his best friend on a mob shakedown. When he’s forced to subdue a strip club owner, Harry proves his value to the Jewish mob, who recruit him as a henchman. Harry’s new job and mob girlfriend (Elina Lowensohn) doesn’t sit too well with his possessive and jealous mother, who will do anything to keep her son by her side. Debbie Harry, former and current Blondie singer, does a wonderful job of conveying the emotions of a desperate woman whose sexual feelings for her son are obvious. The film is filled with strong performances and unusual situations that help distinguish it from other such efforts. Bernstein does a splendid job of mixing black comedy and action elements without creating parody. He and the cast take all of this seriously, and hit just the right note. (A-PIX)

ALSO NEW THIS ISSUE:

ANTZ (PG/Dreamworks/$9.95)

BIG CITY BLUES (R/Avalanche)

GIRLS GONE WILD (Unrated/Ventura Distribution)

GIRLS GONE WILD 2: MARDI GRAS (Unrated/Ventura Distribution)

GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE (G/Walt Disney)

Q-THE MOVIE (NR/Xenon)

RAISING THE HEIGHTS (R/Trimark)

UNMADE BEDS (NR/New Yorker Video)

WHEN JUSTICE FAILS (R/PM)



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