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‘Oscar’ (PG)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 26, 1991

It's so tempting to declare "Oscar" the worst movie of 1991. So very tempting. We are talking, after all, about a comedy starring Sylvester Stallone. Put it this way: "Oscar" will make you wish Stallone had gone ahead with "Rocky VI."

The tanned pug is "Snaps" Provolone, a gangster who seems to have stepped off a Touchstone Pictures 1930s soundstage. His dying father (Kirk Douglas) makes Stallone promise to go straight. So he tells his goons to put away the guns, takes elocution lessons and tries to become a banker. Little does he know what kind of convoluted farce is about to ambush him.

It starts with Vincent Spano, Stallone's accountant. He asks the boss for a raise. His reasons come out little by little. He needs the dough to get married. To Stallone's daughter. Stallone hits the roof. He confronts daughter Marisa Tomei. She admits to a lover. She says she's pregnant. Now, he's got to marry her off. Another woman comes knocking. She says she's the accountant's girl. She was just pretending Stallone was her Dad to impress Spano.

You ain't heard the half of it: Stallone's maid wants to quit. A rival gangster's waiting for the right time to knock off the Snaps gang. The police, led by Kurtwood Smith, are watching everything from across the street. Some old-money bankers are planning to take Stallone for his money. A pair of Italians called Finucci have come to fit Stallone for a business suit. And Stallone's valet Peter Riegert is forever answering the door, letting plots and subplots in and out.

John Landis speeds this farce along to its inevitable big surprise (involving Linda Gray) and concluding nuptials (involving just about everyone else). But he puts a contract out on the comedy.

"Don't call me Boss," Stallone tells a henchman.

"Sorry, Boss," replies the henchman.

Stallone is to humor what John Goodman is to ballet. Riegert apparently wants to be one of the Three Stooges. The others, in this enormous cast, are even worse. There are some amusing turns from Tim Curry, as a priggish elocution instructor, and tailors Martin Ferrero and Harry Shearer. But their efforts are lost in the crowd.

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