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GONE FISHIN’

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: This one’s a major misfire but someone must like it since Kino Lorber has singled the comedy out for a Blu-ray upgrade. My review was published in the Deseret News on June 1, 1997. (Interestingly, while Danny Glover has been consistently active in films over the years (he’s in the ‘Jumanji’ sequel opening next month), Joe Pesci retired some years ago — only to find himself coaxed by his old mentor Martin Scorsese to co-star in ‘The Irishman,’ which opens locally today.)

Oscar-winner Joe Pesci and Danny Glover try to make like Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in "Gone Fishin'." But they're more like a cross between "Dumb & Dumber" and "Grumpy Old Men." With emphasis on the former.

After this and "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" maybe the Academy will ask Pesci to return his Oscar.

As Joe and Gus, respectively, Pesci and Glover are both blue-collar dummies. Gus may be a little smarter (a la Hardy), but not much.

Childhood pals who have grown up to remain best friends in Newark, N.J., Joe and Gus now have families of their own but still live next door to each other.

They are also avid, if incompetent fishermen.

When they win a contest to go fishing in the Florida Everglades, they pack their bags, ready their dilapidated fishing boat and promise their wives they'll be back in time for Thanksgiving dinner the next week.

     

     Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, 'Gone Fishin' ' (1997)

But they're bound for trouble, of course. In fact, they're famous for it. As children, they inadvertently caused a 48-hour blackout that made them front-page news. As adults, they are constantly causing mayhem, though blissfully unaware of it. Gas stations burn down, boats fly through restaurant windows, posh hotels blow up — but Gus and Joe blithely move on.

The plot revolves around a con artist (Nick Brimble) who marries lonely women, takes their money and kills them. Joe and Gus get involved when the killer steals Joe's car — a Barracuda. They retrieve the car but find a murder weapon and a treasure map. Cat-and-mouse games ensue.

Along the way, Joe and Gus meet up with a pair of women who are chasing the killer, wide-eyed charmers played by Rosanna Arquette and Lynn Whitfield (who, like Pesci and Glover, deserve better).

Destruction comedy is difficult at best. It almost always fails because the filmmakers pay more attention to the details of explosions and car crashes than they do the intricacies of comic characters and the choreography of slapstick (think Steven Spielberg's "1941").

Such is the case here, as elaborate fireballs and boat chases ensue, resulting in tedium.

"Gone Fishin'," as directed by Christopher Caine ("Young Guns"), is good-natured enough. And Glover and Pesci are energetic and seem to be enjoying themselves most of the way. But because they have no comic chemistry, it's not infectious.

     

Lynn Whitfield, left, Rosanna Arquette, 'Gone Fishin' ' (1997)

The level of comedy stoops to lines like, "I got memories of that car I can't even remember." And the physical comedy has Pesci and Glover escaping from an alligator by punching it in the stomach.

A troubled production, in which a stuntwoman was killed on the set (the end credits offer a dedication to Janet Peters Wilder), "Gone Fishin' " has been on and off of Disney's release schedule several times. But it seems like a wrong-headed project from the get-go. Even Randy Edelman's yes-folks-this-is-a-comedy music seems like a desperate afterthought.

Willie Nelson has a small role. No big whoop. But was that really Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher as the waitress in the diner scene?

Maybe there really is an Oscar curse.

"Gone Fishin' " is rated PG for violence, a profanity or two, a couple of vulgar gags and some bimbos running around in bikinis during beach scenes.