Peter Falk, Emily Lloyd
Anyone who liked the old TV series Hogan’s Heroes might enjoy this comedy. Like the jokes in that series, which was set in a World War II German prison camp, the humor in this movie isn’t based on anything resembling reality. The film’s bumbling mobsters have as little in common with the real-life social parasites of organized crime as Hogan’s Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz did with the Nazis they supposedly portrayed. Director Susan (Desperately Seeking Susan) Seidelman drops in punch lines in bad sitcom fashion: Lloyd, as the teenage daughter of gang boss Falk, goes to visit him in prison. One of Falk’s thugs says to her, “It’s a long drive, so you’ll let me know if you have to make a wee-wee.” Is this cute, or what?
Falk is engaging and looks sly enough to be in a movie that is satirizing organized crime, not using it as a prop. As his mistress, Dianne Wiest has a great time moiling it up, with teased hair and a flouncing walk. The film’s best moment is when she says to Falk, “I thought you were going to go straight,” and he answers with impeccable timing, “I am…eventually.”
Lloyd, meant to be lovably rebellious as Falk and Wiest’s daughter, has a hopeless job, since she’s given only lame lines and ends up masterminding a tedious sting operation. (Why did Seidelman pick a British actress to play a New York teenager when dozens of young Americans could have filled the part at least as well and not tended to lapse into an English accent?)
Nora (When Harry Met Sally…) Ephron and Alice (Silkwood) Arlen wrote the script, apparently with their senses of humor tied behind their backs, and Seidelman directed with sometimes flagging energy. Hogan’s Heroes is starting to sound better all the time. (R)