March 19, 1990 12:00 PM

Patrick Dempsey, Arye Gross, Daniel Stern

Insufferably disputatious, this film is about three hateful brothers who argue over stupid things for an hour and a half. Watching it is like being in a garage where three distemperate dogs are fighting. Give credit to writer Mike Binder (a former actor) and director Joe (Revenge of the Nerds II) Roth: At least they let you know what’s coming in the prologue, which shows brothers squabbling as youngsters.

Then it’s 1962, and Dempsey, as the punky young brother, Gross, as the nerdy collegian, and Stern, as an Air Force sergeant, pile into a car their father wants them to drive from Detroit to Florida. A few subplot scenes are set in Florida, where Dad, Alan Arkin, has retired. But he devotes his time to arguing with his brother, Joe Bologna—”Putz!” is the intellectual level of things. There’s no relief from the Three Stoogey squabbling.

Dempsey, Gross and Stern argue—in nose-twisting fashion—about how quickly they should eat, who should drive, what to listen to on the radio, whether to smoke, how fast they should go. (The sloppiness of this ordeal is typified by a motel scene where the boys watch baseball on TV. The announcer is describing a Dodgers-Cubs game, with Sandy Koufax pitching to Cal Neeman, while the screen shows Koufax pitching to Roger Maris of the Yankees.)

This all leads to a few minutes of sentiment sappy enough to have oozed from a tree. But audience hearts have been too numbed by the incessant arguments to warm to the inevitable reconciliation.

Dempsey (Loverboy) and Stern (Leviathan) are capable; so is Gross (Tequila Sunrise), though his love scene with Annabeth Gish is a bit lame. There’s really nothing to be done for this movie, anyway. A lemon by any other name…(PG-13)

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