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'Second Sight' (PG)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 04, 1989

In "Second Sight," John Larroquette has a wardrobe that you could do time for in most states. I haven't seen checks quite that big on a jacket since they moved that last shipment of Arnold Palmer sportswear at the Polyester Barn.

Most of "Second Sight," in fact, looks as if it was shot on an everything-must-go, discount basis. The film, which is about a private detective named Wills (Larroquette) who teams up with a psychic named Bobby McGee (Bronson Pinchot), is utterly lacking in either charm or wit. As Wills, Larroquette simply rehashes the self-satisfied heel he portrays on "Night Court." And as the psychic, Pinchot gives every indication that in some earlier incarnation of the script the character was actually meant to be played by a chimp.

Bobby's controller is a parapsychologist named Preston Pricket (Stuart Pankin), whose primary function is to gripe about the misuse of "the gift" whenever Wills tries to get gambling tips or astrological data about women. The picture was directed by Joel Zwick, whose notion of a style is to get a fish tank in as many shots as possible. And come to think of it, the movie seems to have been photographed through a fish tank. Elvis movies didn't have lighting this bad or dialogue this flaccid. And when Bess Armstrong shows up, as a fetching but willful nun, it actually starts to look like an Elvis movie ("Change of Habit," in fact).

I lost count of the car chases. And the dumb thought-reading jokes. The sheer clumsiness of the thing is about all that sustains you. At one point the action leaves Larroquette standing in front of a Chinese restaurant. And to end the scene, he announces, "I'm going to get some pot-stickers." Given the context, this counts as smart writing.

Second Sight is rated PG

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