8 Heads In A Duffel Bag

on April 18, 1997 by Kim Williamson
Halfway between the laugh-meter results for its "Dumb & Dumber" and "Kingpin," this latest effort from producer Brad Krevoy and Steve Stabler's MPCA finds the sporadic gold nugget in mining gumbah-comedy terrain. The story, provided by debut director Tom Schulman (Oscar winner for his "Dead Poets Society" script), follows a mob bagman (Joe Pesci, lowkey for him)--his consignment: eight heads--as he travels to Mexico to retrieve the duffel bag that holds them. Said piece of luggage has become switched with that of young medical student Charlie (newcomer Andy Comeau, not quite up to the task) already apprehensively on his way to share a Central American vacation with his rich-girl fiancee ("The Phantom's" Kristy Swanson, her all- American beauty making her perfect casting) and her socialite parents (a properly sardonic George Hamilton and Dyan Cannon, who overacts more than her fellow cast). Comic catastrophe occurs.
Or is meant to occur. One person discovering eight heads in a duffel bag might be funny but, once that's happened, the audience quickly adjusts to that peculiar scenario and goes looking for new laughs. Meanwhile, the film merely plays variations on the original gag. Not until David Spade ("Black Sheep") comes on the scene as one of Charlie's college chums do matters really perk up. Had this abrasive actor been paired against the equally abrasive Pesci, "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" might have generated real sparks. As is, the film is an intermittently pleasant diversion that delivers only a half-full (or half-empty) load of comic cargo. Starring Joe Pesci, Andy Comeau and Kristy Swanson. Directed and written by Tom Schulman. Produced by Brad Krevoy, Steve Stabler and John Bertolli. An Orion release. Comedy. Rated R for language
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