By Ralph Novak
April 15, 1991 12:00 PM

Frank Whaley, Jennifer Connelly

SITUATION WANTED: One fine young actor and one splendid young actress need major roles immediately to make up for drastic mistake in appearing in dumb comedy that goes right off the Vapid Meter. References available to testify that the tedium is not the fault of either Whaley (most recently Robby Krieger in The Doors) or Connelly (slyly sexy in The Hot Spot). Rather, the culprits are director Bryan Gordon and his perennially adolescent writer, John (you-name-it-if-it-has-teens-in-it-he-wrote-it) Hughes.

How could anyone have ever, even in the most wildly optimistic Beverly Hills story-idea lunch, thought it would be fun to watch a young guy walk, run, bicycle, skate, mop, buff and otherwise propel himself up and down the aisles of a discount store for an hour and a half?

Whaley is the ne’er-do-well who ends up as a night cleaning man, while Connelly is marooned in the store at closing time because she has been contemplating shoplifting in order to embarrass her domineering father and was so overcome by indecision she couldn’t move. (Happens every day.)

Even if Hughes and Gordon hadn’t doomed themselves by opening what is supposed to be a comedy with a sadistic, graphically bloody murder, they offer Whaley and Connelly zero support. He, for instance, has to talk about how his “sister was admitted to the hospital. While trying to pop a zit, her head was terribly exploded.”

Meanwhile, Whaley’s father, John M. Jackson, has to figure out how to make a line like “You pull another stunt like you did today, and I’ll beat the living daylights out of you” fit into what is supposed to be a light teenage film.

Only Dermot (Longtime Companion) Mulroney, as one of two vicious crooks who break into the store, is at all interesting, pouting and sulking in a heavy-lidded fashion that seems like a flat-out Eric Roberts impersonation.

Still, sympathy is the emotion Mulroney arouses, as do Whaley and Connelly (whose body is exploited by Gordon and Hughes in a particularly sleazy, gawking high-school freshman way). They seem to go through the whole film suffering the terrible realization that they’re in the wrong place—a sentiment audience members will be able to identify with. (PG-13)