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‘Getting Even With Dad’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 17, 1994


Howard Deutch
Ted Danson;
Macaulay Culkin;
Glenne Headly;
Hector Elizondo;
Gailard Sartain;
Saul Rubinek

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Macaulay Culkin may be 13, but he's still worshiping at Shirley's temple in "Getting Even With Dad." A stale helping of poppa corn with Ted Danson as the old man, the movie follows Mac the naif's efforts to turn his dud of a dad into the perfect American pater. It's so monotonously unimaginative that it practically qualifies as child abuse. (At the preview screening, kids were actually begging to leave.)

Ray Gleason (Danson), an ex-convict now employed by a San Francisco bakery, is about to heist a cache of rare coins when his son Timmy (Culkin) arrives on his doorstep. Ray begs his sister Kitty (Kathleen Wilhoite) to take the boy until after the job, but she's about to leave on her honeymoon.

A smart little scamp, Timmy discovers his father's plans while Ray and his idiot sidekicks -- dumb Bobby (Saul Rubinek) and fat Carl (Gailard Sartain) -- are off thieving. Timmy quickly outsmarts the three, hides the coins and refuses to return them until Ray agrees to go along with his agenda. The youngster wants to see the sights of San Francisco, and he wants his father to pretend that he enjoys accompanying him.

Pitiful? You bet. The fun never stops because it never starts.

But it works out well enough in the end, with a lot of help from a novice policewoman (Glenne Headly) who longs to become part of the Gleason family. And who can blame her? Ray's got a degree from Folsom State, the personality of a bowling pin and a bushy wig with a foot-long ponytail. Put a little powder on the thing and he'd look like a Founding Father.

Director Howard Deutch and writers Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein try to spark the proceedings by pitting the kid against Ray's bungling helpers, but Rubinek and Sartain have all the comic grace of a streetwalker with bunions. And by repeatedly cutting away from the evolving relationship between father and son, they essentially tear the heart out of what is supposed to be a feel-good movie. Want to get even with Dad? Buy him a ticket to this one.

"Getting Even With Dad" is rated PG-13 for language.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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