PROTOCOL is red, white and Goldie, a case of Ms. Smith goes to Washington, a star-spangled girl all decked out in the new patriotism.
Hawn is both heroine and executive producer of this pleasant, positive comedy, which takes a lesson from the success of this year's "Moscow on the Hudson," and reiterates the Bill of Rights with fireworks.
Hawn is unabashedly proud to be an American cocktail waitress called Sunny, a good- hearted, pioneer-spirited, spunky citizen with a couple of gay roommates. She's on all the right sides of all the issues. She's also brave and at home with the press, an overnight media darling, blue-eyed, homespun and frank.
Sunny earns media scrutiny when she takes a bullet in one of her best assets to save the president and an oil-state emir from an assassin. She's awarded with a job in the Protocol Department, where, to her dismay, diplomats have shed principles to make their load lighter for the climb to the top.
Sunny is a wide-eyed idealist, just like the original Mr. Smith, as it happens. Sometimes Hawn gets one of Jimmy Stewart's earnest looks in her eyes when she confronts the innate government corruption. There are many parallels between Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and Buck Henry's screenplay, including the locale and the classic corn. In essence, it's the same story -- an ordinary American takes on the responsibilities of citizenship. The Buck stops here.
Sunny is sold out by her boss and held hostage by the Mideastern emir, but like the real Iranian hostages, she returns to claim the day for her country.
Washington parties were never so much fun as the one Sunny throws for visiting dignitaries at the Safari Club, which attracts the leather crowd, a dozen Japanese businessmen with a sushi cake and a gaggle of hostesses in zoo suits. The situations are unlikely, but pretend like you don't know that Washington isn't glamorous and you'll enjoy it a lot more.
All-Americans will naturally enjoy "Protocol," as will fans of the dizzy comedienne, who mostly keeps the screen to herself (notable exceptions are Chris Sarandon as the diplomatic love interest and Gail Strickland as the chic antagonist).
Finally it gets just a little too googly-eyed when Sunny goes down to the Jefferson Memorial to contemplate the preamble and such. But all the same, let's tie a yellow ribbon round Goldie. PROTOCOL -- At area theaters.