These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.
(PG, 1999, 83 minutes, Universal)
There's something missing in this film version of the TV cartoon show. Maybe it's innocence or charm. Brendan Fraser plays the upstanding, goofy Canadian Mountie, Dudley D.R., who owns a horse called Horse, fights with property- stealing archvillain Snidely Whiplash (Alfred Molina) and dreams of romance with Nell Fenwick (Sarah Jessica Parker). These may be the right elements of the TV show, but the chemistry is gone. Fraser replays the slapstick, non-pretentious charm he brought to "George of the Jungle." In fact, "Dudley" is basically "George" dressed up in Mountie uniform. But there's little he can do in a movie that is too smart for little kids and too dumb for preteens. What is anyone under 15 to make of a scene in which "Riverdance" is mocked in an "Indian Corn Pageant" number involving singing-dancing braves in a well-choreographed stage show? Contains flatulence and slapstick.
-- Desson Howe
MICKEY BLUE EYES
(PG-13, 1999, 102 minutes, Warner)
In this third-rate mob comedy, Hugh Grant is an English cheap joke: a prim but supposedly quippy art dealer who finds out his fiancee (Jeanne Tripplehorn) is the daughter of James Caan, a mafia boss. Caan becomes so attached to his potential son-in-law he brings him into the family -- with everything that entails. Grant's attempts to utter such mafioso expressions as "fuggedaboudit" are hammy and embarrassing. And the movie, which has him hemming and hawing through a small colony of Central Casting gangsters, is about as funny as digging your own grave in an unmarked part of New Jersey. Contains profanity and implied violence. -- Desson Howe
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN
(R, 1999, 83 minutes, Columbia TriStar)
Those Universal Soldiers -- dead warriors brought back to life and programmed by a computer called SETH -- return to cause more mayhem and this bad sequel. Jean-Claude Van Damme reprises his role as Luc Deveraux, a former Uni Sol himself, who has to take drastic measures when SETH (Self Evolving Thought Helix) goes HAL on everyone and starts running the show. If someone doesn't pull the plug soon, SETH's going to kill the whole human race. Big-boy guns, big-boy physique and big-boy explosions rule the day, as usual. And while he's smacking artificially implanted heads, Van Damme plays cutesie with a "hard-as-nails" reporter (Heidi Schanz) doggedly following the action. Contains violence and Jesse Ventura English. -- Desson Howe