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'Carpool': On the Route to Nowhere

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 24, 1996

David Paymer and Tom Arnold drive all over Vancouver, B.C., looking for laughs in "Carpool," a clunker of a chase movie that gets more mileage out of its cut-the-cheese jokes than it does from the this comic duo. What, they couldn't get Ernest Borgnine and Pauly Shore?

Paymer plays Daniel, an impatient advertising executive who reluctantly replaces his ailing wife as chauffeur of the neighborhood car pool. To quiet the complaints of his two sons (Michah Gardener and Mikey Kovar) and his other young passengers, Daniel stops for pastries at a gourmet shop.

Franklin (Arnold), a bankrupt carnival owner, also has dropped in for coffee and a doughnut. Armed with a toy gun, he plans to rob a bank to save the family sideshow. But just then, two armed men hold up the gourmet shop. Through a series of mix-ups, Franklin ends up with the money. While fleeing the scene, he takes Daniel and the kids hostage, and a punishing daylong chase scene begins.

Led by a meter maid (Rhea Perlman) in a souped-up golf cart, the authorities track Daniel's van. Meanwhile, the young 'uns bond with the genial, childlike carny because he's lots of fun.

Though initially resentful, Daniel begins to realize that by contrast, he is no fun. And that's what life's all about.

Unfortunately, moviegoers won't be able to share this revelation, because they won't be having any fun themselves. Okay, maybe a couple of titters.

Arthur Hiller, who last directed the sour "The Babe" -- not the one about that sweet pig -- finds even less to work with in TV veteran Don Rhymer's stupid screenplay.

His story may cover a lot of blacktop, but Rhymer's definitely no roads scholar.

Carpool is rated PG.

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