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‘Father Hood’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 27, 1993


Darrell Roodt
Patrick Swayze;
Halle Berry;
Sabrina Lloyd;
Brian Bonsall;
Michael Ironside;
Diane Ladd;
Bob Gunton;
Adrienne Barbeau

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Sporting shades, sideburns and a suitable swagger, Patrick Swayze is "Father Hood," a drive-by dad who makes Woody Allen look like Father Flanigan. A two-bit crook with the smarts of a shoe box, Swayze is on the brink of the biggest heist of his career when those darn kids he abandoned -- a teenage daughter (Sabrina Lloyd) and a 7-year-old son (Brian Bonsall) -- show up and really mess up his plans.

It seems they're being abused by the perverts down at the orphanage and they were hoping he could offer them refuge. Just a big little boy himself, Swayze tries to shake them again, but for reasons too preposterous to recount, he and the kids are soon on the lam, with the FBI and police of four states in hot pursuit.

While TV and movie trailers promise a rollicking road movie for the whole family, it is, in fact, a plodding guide to reckless child endangerment. Along the path to familial reconciliation, the grudging Swayze exposes the children to high-speed chases, near escapes and more than a little gunplay. You have to wonder if the kids didn't just jump out of the frying pan, miss the fire and land directly in Hell.

Of course, Father Hood learns to love child-rearing by the end of the story, which is resolved with help from an investigative reporter (Halle Berry). Together, they nail the Oliver Twisteds who have been beating, shackling and fondling the foster children left in their care. Mr. Hood, an altogether irredeemable character, gives an impassioned speech about loving his kids, but it's not enough to reclaim this sorry excuse for a hero.

Based on a series of articles by journalist-turned-producer Nicholas Pileggi, "Father Hood" is a drama that wants to be a comedy: So what if child abuse and abandonment aren't funny or if Swayze has the comic capacity of mulch? And if it can't be a comedy, then maybe an action adventure? But what South African director Darrell James Roodt knows about thrillers would fit in a car ashtray. He's the director of "Sarafina!," for heaven's sake.

Another odd choice from the folks at Disney -- this one under the banner of Hollywood Pictures -- one has to wonder if Mickey hasn't contracted rabies.

"Father Hood" is rated PG-13 for violence.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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