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'Vibes' (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 05, 1988

If you have ESP, you already know the plot of "Vibes." If you don't, it's Indiana Kreskin and the Temple of Dumb, a comic misadventure with Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum as the Mutt 'n' Jeff of psychic phenomena. After what seems like a very long time, their search for a lost city leads to a special-effects opportunity in Ecuador.

Lauper makes her tottering screen debut as Sylvia Pickel, a ditsy beauty school student, who gets tips from a spirit named Louise. Goldblum is amiable as Nick Deezy, a psychometrist who can hold an object and tell you where it's been. He has a feel for things.

Despite their special powers, the two are tricked into a perilous treasure hunt by an opportunist (Peter Falk) who pretends to be searching for his missing son. Thrown together like this, Nick and Sylvia overcome their initial dislike for each other and, as is customary, fall madly in love.

Misguided by "Follow That Bird" director Ken Kwapis, the miscast and downright miserable company attempts zaniness against the exotic South American backdrop. It's supposed to be hilarious, for instance, when Sylvia pronounces Pickel "Pee-KELL." And when she and Nick dance and her feet don't touch the floor, hoo boy.

Ron Howard must have been in a trance when he agreed to back the project. Based on episodes of TV's schlock-u-doc "In Search of . . ." it is the brainchild of Deborah Blum, who also wrote the book "Bad Karma." Maybe they all heckled stand-up comedians in another life, and "Vibes" is their punishment. When it comes to innocent movie-goers, the best recourse is extrasensory deprivation.

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