"The Survivors" has two things in common with the California condor: It's just laid an egg and it's on the endangered species list.
Gallows humor, slapstick and silly hats notwithstanding, as comedy it's a calamity. Star Robin Williams claims it's got "yin, yang and yong" -- his Morkishness, costar Walter Matthau's patter familiaris and villain Jerry Reed's country wry. But the mix doesn't jell and won't sell.
Matthau, Williams and Reed costar as a gas man, a salesman and a hit man united by economic disaster. Williams and Matthau, after a round of hassles at the unemployment office, are held up by Reed, who's turned to small-time crime to make dead- ends meet. Our protagonists stop the hold- up and as a result Reed dogs them relentlessly.
The aimless plot eventually leads Williams to a survivalist camp run by a fanatical flimflam man (James Wainwright) who is preparing for the new Dark Ages by stockpiling bullets and powdered eggs. In this sandbox for weekend guerrillas, Williams and Reed shoot it out at first but become friends when they realize that the survivalists want America to fall apart.
Michael Leeson ("Taxi") wrote the scatterbrained screenplay based on an idea from producer William Sackheim, who became intrigued with the survivalist movement. "There's a kind of madness about it," Sackheim says. Except that in this film, the survivalists seem as sane as the rest of the cast.
There are no highs, no lows and few laughs, just lots of promising lines that never take off.
Only a dodo would relish "The Survivors." And that may explain why they're extinct. THE SURVIVORS -- At area theaters.