"Cheaper to Keer Her" is scarcely a title with a classy ring to it. True to this teasing, rhymey snort, the movie proves a smugly swinish romantic farce, with a trashy presentation to match its trashy outlook. The photography and decor must have been commissioned at a discount from Porn Parlor Interiors. The material is strictly from hunger.

It's conceivable that Mac Davis and Tovah Feldshuh actually had a good time mugging and blundering their ways through the inane cheapie in which they costar. It's inconceivable that the effort would enhance their careers. If anything, "Cheaper" would tend to leave the impression that anyone associated with it was damaged merchandise.

Davis is cast as a private investigator hired by Feldshuh, a divorce lawyer, to handle several cases of deadbeat husbands suspected of concealing assets from their estranged wives. It's meant to be an ironic scream that the hero and heroine are marital casualties engaged in divorce work. Davis comes to the job straight from a separation, while Feldshuh is revealed to be her own client; the biggest cheat in the caseload assigned to Davis is the boss' deceitful spouse, played by Ian MacShane, and she can't quite break away from him.

There might be an amusing romantic comedy in this premise, but "Cheaper" takes an insulting approach that doesn't even pay off on its own salacious terms. The two credited screenwriters, Timothy Harris and Herschel Winegrod, share a one-track mind. They're fixated on the thought of "getting some," but are incapable of deriving any pleasure from the hunt.

Whenever the faintest suggestion of affectionate rapport emerges between the costars, the script seems to snuff it out. Faced with the prospect of ordinary romantic attraction, the writers beat a disgraceful retreat to the security of gratuitous smutty banter and lewd situations.

Davis indulges an impersonation of an effusive, effeminate gay that could earn him a few hearty backslaps and raucous felicitations in stray honkytonks across the land. The sort of places where a guy might come up and ask him the same question asked in the movie by his sidekick Art Metrano: "Tell me, who's the lucky broad you're makin' it with tonight?"

On the other hand, Davis' gay lark might give knowing folks the wrong idea, even though he's careful to direct conspiratorial looks of distate at the audience while blabbing with a sincere priss in one tell-tale sequence. Pretending to be swishy does seem to brighten Davis' personality in ways that the uncharitable might enjoy finding suspicious. His best bit is certainly a mincing girlish run. Could he be auditioning for a remake of "Some Like It Hot"? Maybe a Country & Western version, with Johnny Cash as the other female impersonator, Dolly Parton as Sugar and Willie Nelson in the Joe E. Brown role?

But I digress. It's difficult to tell what public "Cheaper" is intended to gratify. A movie this archaically low-minded would no doubt make the forward-looking apoplectic if they were unwary enough to stumble into a theater displaying it.