Some movies are just bad ideas, some are good efforts that fail, and some, like this one, are cynical insults to the audience.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Fatal Instinct" is not riddled with violence, nudity, sex, profanity or torture. The Christian Coalition need not march on this day. It does not have one whit of drama, intelligence, romance or suspense. It is not sad, nor is it funny. It has no plot. So what is it?

It thinks it is parody. But parody promises wit and sophistication. Wit and sophistication? I think it thinks it is a parody of the thriller/detective story because the following things happen: a blonde Sean Young, generous of bosom and bottom, totters around on high heels. The comic twist to her role is that something is always stuck to the sole of one shoe - chewing gum, toilet paper, anything. This is about as funny as it gets. It's the kind of movie that pats itself on the back for having the cop read a suspect his Miranda rights from cue cards.

To remind us of the glory days of detective stories in the '40s, the ubiquitous saxophone player appears and reappears for no apparent reason. The ceiling fans of "Casablanca" abound, even on the ceiling of the limo. Dames pick locks with bobby pins; cigarettes and lighters are supposed to recall Bogart and Henreid. There are pallid echoes of Perry Mason and Della Street. In a sly try at social comment, Armand Assante plays a dummy who is both a cop and a lawyer. He does provide the single moment of fun when he throws himself into a hip swiveling mambo in high heels.

The take off on sex is represented by sex in the icebox and Assante buffing the backside of his lover with an electric car polisher. There is an awkward and embarrassing send up of the great Sharon Stone underwear scene in "Basic Instinct." Our hero wears black socks in the whirlpool with his lover, but instead of drawing a laugh, he rekindles the unappetizing memory of Richard Nixon walking blacksocked on a California beach.

Some movies are just bad ideas, some are good efforts that fail, and some, like this one, are cynical insults to the audience. Writer David O'Malley gets the lion's share of the blame for a terrible script, and we can hope that Carl Reiner, who has given us so many terrific movies, will explain sometime how he could possibly have gotten mixed up in this mess. In addition to this fine director, four good performers have risked their reputations. Kate Nelligan, Armand Assante, Sherilyn Fenn and Sean Young have all done good work elsewhere.

It's a movie to nod off in. You miss nothing while you sleep. In a movie-mad country flooded with young acting talent and screenwriters, how can such a bungle reach the big screen? A critic scanning the multiplex marquee for good news to report to the movie going public was met this week by "Mr. Wonderful," "Mr. Jones," "Mr. Nanny," and "Fatal Instinct," a juiceless set of choices if ever there was one.

Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Word Count: 497
Studio: MGM
Rating: PG-13

Copyright (c) Illusion

Return to Ellis Home Page