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‘Mr. Destiny’ (PG-13)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 12, 1990

You don't -- you can't -- mess with traditional American values in a Hollywood movie. Take James Belushi (please) in "Mr. Destiny." A lovable, lite-beer-drinking pug dissatisfied with his life, Belushi wants to live everything over.

Problem: Old Rottweiler Chops has a doting wife (Linda Hamilton), a good friend (Jon Lovitz), a regular job and a tract home. You can't ditch all that in a moral hurry.

But in this Touchstone junk-food fantasy, brought to you by the creators of "Three Men and a Baby," you can dream a little. At least The Jimbo can. He's spent the last 20 years thinking about his embarrassing strikeout in a high-school championship baseball game. If only he'd connected with that ball, he thinks, maybe he'd be the one in the head office now, instead of sleazy manipulator Hart Bochner, with prom queen Rene Russo on his arm.

It gets worse -- and I mean that in every possible way. Bochner fires Belushi, his car breaks down on the way home and everyone seems to have forgotten his birthday. His life has gone down the tubes, or has it? When he enters a nearby saloon to call the towing company, Michael Caine happens to be tending bar. Is Caine ducking from the press until his ridiculous perm grows out? No, he's a man of magic, something like an angel who's about to show Belushi the lesson of his life. Well, you can guess what follows and, if you can't, then you're way behind my 6-year-old, who guessed almost every plot development before it happened. There isn't anything here you haven't seen already in "It's a Wonderful Life" and a thousand other wish-list movies. Writer/director James Orr doesn't even do you the favor of speeding through the unoriginality. In the interests of public service, let me at least give you the message behind this movie. Helpfully outlined in the Touchstone press notes, the quotation is attributed to "Destiny" executive producer Laurence Mark: "This is a film that says, 'Wait a second -- just look at where you are -- maybe where you are is better than you think.' " Any questions?

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