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'Hot to Trot'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 27, 1988


Michael Dinner
Bob Goldthwait;
Dabney Coleman;
Virginia Madsen;
Cindy Pickett;
Mary Gross
Parental guidance suggested

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"Hot to Trot" is an unbridled disaster, a screwball horseplay so lame you want to put it out of its misery. "Equus" is funnier.

Bob Goldthwait, a costar of "Police Academies 2-4," joins Don, the talking horse, in this insulting rip-off of that classic crackup Mr. Ed and his progenitor, Francis the Talking Mule. Following the formula, Goldthwait plays the stupid human Fred, and Don (who sounds just like John Candy) is the savviest equine since the Trojan Horse.

Fred's mother recently died and left him half of the family brokerage firm, but his evil stepfather Walter (Dabney Coleman) hopes to cheat him of his inheritance. Then along comes Don, a bay, to save the day. Thanks to the horse's Wall Street tips, Fred makes a lot of money and gains the respect and affection of a beautiful broker, Allison (Virginia Madsen). Then he loses everything on a bad investment and must race Don to recoup his money and his pride.

Don, stud wannabe and self-described "couch potato," is insecure about his buck teeth and is promised cosmetic bonding if he wins the race. The dental work, he hopes, will then win the heart of Satin Doll, a foxy white mare who wears eye shadow. The camera lingers lovingly on her horseflesh, while Don admires her withers and her nickers. Goldthwait, famed for his castrato comic delivery, deserves more than this, but not another leading role. This is said to be his first, but he's actually more of a second banana, setting up Don for jokes: "Want a hamburger?" asks Goldthwait. "No. Want a peopleburger?" Don replies. Then there's the time Don takes Fred to meet his folks and his mother, the mare, "wants to know what it's like facing someone while you're having sex." And of course, everywhere you turn, somebody steps in it.

Michael Dinner, who directed "Heaven Help Us," works from a screenplay by Stephen Neigher (yeah, sure), Hugo Gilbert and Charlie Peters, who must have been cleaning stables when they got the inspiration for this. Buck Henry, Tim Kazurinsky, Mary Gross, Gilbert Gottfried and a couple of rock stars drop by, probably because they thought it would be such a frisky burlesque instead of the Churchill downer that it is.

Hot to Trot is rated PG and is playing at area theaters.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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