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For, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Tom Selleck comedy has long been available on DVD but this recent release is the first time it’s been available in its original widescreen format since it was released in theaters more than 25 years ago. If that’s your preference over the picture shifting back and forth in pan-and-scan, here you go, courtesy of Warner Archive. This review ran in the Deseret News on Feb. 3, 1989.

After such box office duds as “Lassiter” and “Runaway,” Tom Selleck struck gold with the comedy “Three Men and a Baby,” and, being no dummy, he is following that one up with yet another farce — “Her Alibi,” which opened Friday.

Selleck does pratfalls, takes an arrow in his posterior, is nearly run over by his own car, rolls down a hill in a trash can and steps out of his home just before it blows up. One would think he is an American Inspector Clouseau, of the “Pink Panther” pictures. And Selleck somehow does it all with an air of false dignity and a cowardly demeanor that is amusingly reminiscent of Bob Hope in his old movies.

But the story for “Her Alibi” is so lame and the narration that accompanies it is so bad — best-selling author Selleck is reading the new mystery-thriller he is writing — that one wonders how this picture ever got made. Not to mention why Selleck would agree to do it.


       Tom Selleck, Paulina Porizkova, 'Her Alibi'

The plot has Selleck suffering from writer’s block. His faithful sidekick and editor (who never seems to have to be at his office) is wisecracking William Daniels, who is desperately trying to encourage Selleck to come up with a new book.

One day, Selleck joins some eccentric friends (who promptly disappear after their first scene) in a courtroom where he sees gorgeous Paulina Porizkova (the famed international model who co-starred in “Anna”). She is being arraigned for murder but she’s so beautiful that he just knows she’s innocent (that’s logical, isn’t it?).

So Selleck poses as a priest, visits her in prison and offers her an alibi: She can say she was having an affair with him at the time of the murder.

Soon afterward she takes up residence in his home, and despite his love for her — and the novel he is now inspired to write — Selleck begins to fear for his life as strange accidents start happening, culminating in the house explosion. (He’s oblivious to the KGB agents constantly tailing them.)


The explosion moves the action to the home of some friends, and soon, in an odd moment, Porizkova goes into a room there and finds Selleck’s computer and novel intact. (If you want to forgive this by saying that perhaps his computer wasn’t hurt in the blast at his home, you’ll have a harder time explaining why his house has been completely restored for the film’s final moments — only a day or so later.)

Some may say that all of these complaints are carping, and if the film makes you laugh enough you may be more forgiving than I. While I enjoyed Selleck’s attempts at slapstick, I’d have preferred a better story and dialogue to surround it. As it is, this is so preposterous it lost me early on.

Worse, director Bruce Beresford (“Tender Mercies”), in his first slapstick comedy, dreadfully under uses his supporting players — including Daniels, James Farentino, Tess Harper, Patrick Wayne and assorted oddball others.

“Her Alibi” has its moments — just not enough of them. It is rated PG for violence, profanity, implied sex and brief nudity shown when a spy is thumbing through a Playboy magazine.