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ONCE UPON A CRIME …

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kino Lorber is giving Blu-ray upgrades to a lot of good films, as well as a lot of dubious choices, the latter including this one, an ensemble farce from the early 1990s. Here’s my review, published March 8, 1992, in the Deseret News.

A very broadly played comedy that tries to be both a door-slamming bedroom farce and a murder-mystery spoof akin to the "Pink Panther" movies, “Once Upon a Crime … ” is simply a bore.

The ensemble cast is made up of talented performers who continually appear in mediocre-to-terrible movies — and this one won't improve that reputation.

Sean Young is an American woman stranded in Rome, where she meets down-on-his luck actor Richard Lewis. They both want the reward for a lost dog they've found, so they head to Monte Carlo, where the bulk of the film was shot on location.

Also on hand is compulsive gambler John Candy, who claims to have reformed — until he's tempted by the gaming tables. His wife is played by the gorgeous Ornella Muti. Right.

     

     James Belushi, John Candy, 'Once Upon a Crime ... ‘

James Belushi is also a compulsive gambler with no pretenses of being reformed. His wife is Cybill Shepherd, as a dowdy, mild-mannered homemaker. Right.

Italian star Giancarlo Giannini is the Inspector Clouseau-like police chief, and George Hamilton plays a gigolo, using the same accent he had as Dracula in "Love at First Bite."

When Young and Lewis get to Monte Carlo and try to return the dog, they find the owner dead in her garage. Instead of simply calling the police, they run away — leaving her suitcase behind. They quickly become suspects, of course.

Later, Belushi steals Young's suitcase, and when the murder victim is found stuffed inside, Belushi and Shepherd become suspects, as well. And, as you might suspect, Candy and Hamilton are also eventually accused.

     

   James Belushi, Cybill Shepard, 'Once Upon a Crime ... ‘

Even more predictably, at the end of the film they all get together in a drawing room while the mystery is sorted out by Giannini.

There are no characters here, just cartoons. Lewis uses one-liners from his neurotic standup act, Candy puts on his familiar pseudo-sophisticated airs, Giannini tries to perform subtle sight gags and everyone else screams their lines at peak pitch.

First-time director Eugene Levy (the comic actor; he puts in a cameo in the casino scene) is obviously trying for some rapid-fire frenzied farce here but it all seems forced. And no opportunity for a cheap sex gag is overlooked. (It's hard to believe the script is credited to Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers, who fared much better with "Father of the Bride," "Baby Boom" and "Private Benjamin.")

"Once Upon a Crime . . ." is rated PG for comic violence, profanity and vulgarity.