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‘Sibling Rivalry’ (PG-13)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 26, 1990

These days, if you've seen the preview, you've seen the movie. We're talking the entire plot, fleshed out like cinematic Cliffs Notes before you. Apparently, we're so amazingly brain-dead we need to be told exactly what we'll get.

So we can see it again.

"Sibling Rivalry," a new caper starring pajama-rompstress Kirstie Alley, proves no exception to this rule. From the preview alone you learn that:

Alley is having problems in her marriage, because gastroenterologist-husband Scott Bakula, obsessed with his work, is ignoring her.

Ready for an affair, Alley gets picked up by twinkly-eyed Sam Elliott in a food store.

After they've made passionate, extramarital love, she realizes he's dead.

She confesses to her sister (Jami Gertz), who then asks if Elliott died, uh, during the act. "After," says Alley. "Oh, I hope it was after -- eeooooh!"

"SHE DID IT," says the newspaper ad. "AND BOY IS SHE SORRY."

Does everyone have a clear picture of the movie, so far? If not, here are some further pointers: If you like Kirstie Alley, you'll probably like this movie. She does everything she tearfully, cutesily does in "Cheers" and did in "Look Who's Talking."

Carrie Fisher and Frances Sternhagen (as Alley's mean relatives), policeman Ed O'Neill and the rest of the cast, are scripted functionally, so they perform functionally. The best work, ironically comes from the stiff, Elliott. Bill Pullman, as a flop-haired, nervous window-blind salesman who gets involuntarily caught up in Alley's troubles, has his share of amusingly gawky moments.

Of course, you know a little extramarital sex and accidental manslaughter isn't going to send this neglected wife to jail, nor mess up a good, eight-year marriage to a doctor; not after he grows a beard, gets better clothes and thinks about how much Alley really means to him.

Two final questions: Where is director Carl Reiner in all of this? The man once rubbed shoulders with comic greats Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, and directed "All of Me" and "The Man With Two Brains." And what are the chances of a personal Reiner ad that says "I DID IT AND BOY AM I SORRY"?

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