It takes a director with a true genius for disaster to put together "SCTV" veterans John Candy and Eugene Levy, the fine character actors Kenneth McMillan and Robert Loggia and the delicious new comic actress Meg Ryan and come up with a movie without a single laugh in it. Indeed, who but Mark Lester could have pulled it off?

In "Armed and Dangerous," he gets a nifty assist from Harold Ramis and Peter Torokvei, two formerly funny screen writers who this time explore the comic potential of the phrase "poophead" and whose tremendous output over the last year only proves that Engels was right: quantity changes quality.

For the record, the story involves a cop (Candy) and a lawyer (Levy) who, fired from their jobs, become security guards and find themselves fighting a conspiracy among a crooked union, crooked cops and their security firm, which is (you'll never believe this) crooked as well.

Lester's idea of directing is to turn up the music and wreck a lot of cars -- this isn't a movie, it's a Volvo ad. Halfway through "Armed and Dangerous," Candy says, "There comes a time in every man's life when he's got to take a stand."

Calling General Custer.

Armed and Dangerous, at area theaters, is rated PG-13 and contains sexual themes and some mild profanity.