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Picks and Pans Review: Taking Care of Business

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Jim Belushi, Charles Grodin

Here’s a multiple-choice quiz on this film about an escaped convict taking over the life of an ad executive who has lost his ID papers:

1. How recently was the idea of role-switching, with a down-and-outer taking over a rich guy’s identity, used?

a. Hold on a minute there, this is a refreshing new concept in filmmaking;

b. Last spring, with Dana Carvey’s Opportunity Knocks, and not that long ago in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Trading Places and…

c. Imitation is the sincerest form of lack of ideas.

2. How timeworn are these comedy clichés—nerd (Grodin) drives into a tough neighborhood (L.A.) asking directions; two buddying-up good guys (Belushi and Grodin) slide down a wire to safety?

a. Hold on a minute there, this is a refreshing new concept in filmmaking;

b. You have to think all the way back to National Lampoon’s Vacation; See No Evil, Hear No Evil;

c. Be thankful there are no gratuitous naked-women-in-the-shower scenes (though there is, come to think of it, a gratuitous half-naked-woman-by-the-swimming-pool scene).

3. If you were casting this film with Grodin, typed as a wimp, and Belushi, who has played a series of loud curmudgeons, would you:

a. Make Grodin the raucous con and Belushi the meek executive, so there would be something original:

b. Make Belushi the con and Grodin the exec, since then you wouldn’t risk keeping the audience awake;

c. Ask them, as two talented actors, if they might not have something more useful to do.

4. How many times is “Oh, [obscenity deleted]!” or a variation thereof used in writers Jill Mazursky and Jeffrey Abrams’s script?

a. More often than in Bird on a Wire but not as often as in the international drill sergeants’ handbook of instructional language;

b. Enough to snare an R rating;

c. Too damn often.

5. What are Jill Mazursky’s credentials for writing a film?

a. Years of formal training and practical experience;

b. Work on many esteemed cinematic triumphs;

c. Being the daughter of director Paul Mazursky, executive producer of this film.

6. Who directed this movie?

a. A technically competent amateur trying out the pesky zoom device on his new videocam;

b. The spirit of Patrick Swayze, rejected at the last minute by the heavenly white Ping Pong balls in Ghost when they found out he had been in Dirty Dancing;

c. Arthur Hiller, a 30-year veteran who got more laughs in Love Story, when he wasn’t trying.

7. Which major league baseball team, admired by all, is Belushi passionate about?

a. The Cubs; b. The Cubs; c. The Cubs.

8. What crime did Belushi commit that allows him to be a sympathetic character?

a. Sending anonymous insults to junk-mail purveyors using the postage-paid envelopes included with their offers;

b. Burning negatives of boring movies:

c. The much-beloved crime of car theft, a source of infuriating memories only to the several million people who have experienced it.

9. What is the most outrageously implausible part of the movie?

a. Belushi escaping prison with ease;

b. Grodin being absurdly unable to reestablish his identity:

c. That this exchange between nubile newcomer Loryn Locklin and Belushi is supposed to be funny, or meaningful, or something—”If I ever sound unhappy, [my dad] sends me a check.” “A check?”

10. No, really, what is the very most ridiculously implausible part?

a. Veronica Hamel agreeing to the throwaway role of Grodin’s long-suffering (but mostly off-camera) wife:

b. Dr. Ruth allowing a clip of her TV show to be used;

c. The Cubs not only making it to the World Series in the movie but winning. (R)