Undercover Blues

UndercoverBluesKathleen Turner and Dennis Quaid star as Jeff and Jane Blue (thus the title), two retired spies who were involved in everything from espionage to the CIA. While on vacation in New Orleans, they must find an old adversary named Novacek (Fiona Shaw) who has been stealing top secret explosives from the military. The Blues must take her back to authorities in Czechoslovakia by her own free will (a seemingly pointless rule). The Blues must do it all with their baby girl along for the wild ride.

Quaid’s character, Jeff, much smarter than his enemies, spends most of his time making thieves and thugs look stupid, especially a troublesome robber named Muerte (Stanley Tucci). Check your Spanish dictionary for the definition of Muerte if you can’t get the meaning in the context of the movie. This small amount of wordplay tries to get a lot of mileage in the story, but it sputters out like most of the scenes in this poppy movie.

Turner fulfills her tough image with plenty of realistic fighting while still having time for plenty of cute scenes with her baby. In an exterior sequence at a zoo, Jane fakes a seizure as Jeff takes the baby to see the alligators. This action flushes out Muerte so Jeff can plant a bug on him. Jeff jokingly calls him “Morty” as they track Muerte to Noveck’s hideout. This example is a typical and weak attempt to inject fun, comedic scenes into the meandering story.

Each element of a movie should make sense on its own and a fake seizure simply does not fit. Too much screen time passes for a simple bug plant and the attempts to spoof the detective/spy genre doesn’t provide much entertainment. Some dangerous problems arise in a confusing ending which reduces the comedic effect. The ending becomes a typical bland showdown with Novacek and her band of men leaving you tired and disappointed.

The story basically tries to make the enemies look dumb and incompetent as the Blues enjoy their mission, basically humiliating the antagonists. Two New Orleans cops and the FBI add to the mix which creates an entertaining, but slow pace in the movie.

Director Herbert Ross does a respectable job, but his choice of camera shots in the climactic action shots don’t reach their intended goals. Ross tries to mimic the tilted style of shots used in the Batman television series by angling the camera with the action.

Tom Arnold has a pointless role as a friend of the Blues named Vern Newman along with his wife Bonnie (Park Overall). This movie was definitely made for people who just want to have fun watching the story unfold instead of sweating over realistic tension and danger. The dazzling fight scenes and smart antics try valiantly to make up for the dead plot and the comedy tries to make the audience more relaxed and eager to laugh. This effort has good intentions, but the movie as a whole suffers and loses credibility.

Turner and Quaid seem to enjoy acting in this movie as their enthusiasm shows up well on the screen. Too bad their efforts can’t produce a satisfying movie. If the story had as much enthusiasm as the stars, then you would see a better movie. Good (** out of four stars) but could’ve been much better.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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This entry was posted in 1990s Film Reviews, Film Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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