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‘If Looks Could Kill’

By Eve Zibart
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 15, 1991


William Dear
Richard Grieco;
Linda Hunt;
Roger Rees;
Robin Bartlett;
Roger Daltrey
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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TV hunk Richard Grieco's movie debut "If Looks Could Kill" has a great future -- as a party game.

"Goldfinger," "The Man With the Golden Gun," "Live and Let Die," "For Your Eyes Only," "From Russia With Love," "A View to a Kill," "Octopussy" -- this is a Bondage spoof fest, with jokes lifted from virtually every 007 flick, including the already spoofy "Casino Royale." Toss in a little Indiana Jones, a bit of Rambo, "Enter the Dragon" and a smattering of "The Poseidon Adventure" (or is it "The Towering Inferno"?) and this movie does everything except get smart.

It kicks off with a snowmobile chase taken from at least two 007 films, featuring an unmussable superspy code-named the Blade (Roger Daltrey, in the first of a series of star cameos). He's quickly disposed of, and we cut from the chase to "Pomp and Circumstance."

"21 Jump Street"/"Booker" alum Grieco plays a high school senior (well, Roger Moore was a little old for his part, too) on a class trip to France. He and the CIA's top undercover agent are both named Michael Corben, and naturally he's confused with this suave, deadly superguy. Grieco is managed by "Mother" (see "The Avengers") and equipped with suitable high-tech weapons: plastic explosive disguised as chewing gum -- "sugar-free, of course" -- an armed sports car and moonboot-like Reebok Pumps.

He's drawn into the megalomania of a would-be king and gold nut ("Goldfinger") and his mate, played by Roger Rees doing Christopher Lee in "Golden Gun" and Linda Hunt doing Lotte Lenya in "Russia." Name these films, kids: Grieco beats Rees at baccarat (?), eludes a poisonous scorpion aimed at his groin (?) and a would-be seductress with hair like Jane Seymour's (?). In the final showdown, he and his beautiful accomplice are chased by a detached helicopter rotor in a shot framed just like the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" posters.

Here's the problem: It looks like "Raiders" because the producers don't seem to know any other way. Grieco can't decide whether to play it silly or serious; instead of skewering himself, as Michael J. Fox does in "The Hard Way," Grieco seems to keep falling back into "Booker" by habit. It's juvenile in humor and apparently in intent (Grieco keeps his briefs on at all times), yet surely Bond-ing spoofs are long outdated.

Grieco will be lucky if "Looks" doesn't kill his career, because in showbiz, as in the spy biz, you only live twice.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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