Gone Fishin'

on May 30, 1997 by Dale Winogura
   Comedies about fishing have never worked, not even for Howard Hawks, whose worst film was 1964's "Man's Favorite Sport?" That dictum is proven again in 1997 with "Gone Fishin'," a Hollywood/Caravan effort (held from summer 1996 release) whose lame slapstick, nonexistent plot and incompetent moviemaking should discourage anyone from trying again.
   What are Joe Pesci and Danny Glover doinng acting like obnoxious clowns in a feeble series of dumb misadventures? As hard as they try to be amiable in their rapid-fire ad-lib delivery, none of their efforts pays off in anything but audience silence. The clumsy physical comedy, often executed by obvious stunt doubles, is supposed to depict their disaster-laden attempts to have a fishing vacation. Unfortunately, they're closer to a hyper Beavis and Butt-head than Laurel and Hardy. (Maybe it should have been a silent movie.)
   A dopey subplot, of a gun-toting criminal hunting the guys down to retrieve a treasure map, fails to add any suspense or humor to a sorry assortment of telegraphed gags and poor-man's Mack Sennett shenanigans. The evident attempt at a jaunty, carefree farce is killed by an absence of creativity and originality.
   Director Christopher Cain had already fallen from the artful dramatic highs of 1984's "The Stone Boy" to the commercial dregs of 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," but his hollow, lifeless work here represents a new career low. Careless staging and mistiming of every comic bit add up to depressingly useless trivia that's not likely to be listed prominently on any participant's resume. The only moment when the movie seems to work comes during a brief appearance by Willie Nelson as some sort of deus ex machina. God knows the picture needed someone to save it.    Starring Joe Pesci, Danny Glover and Rosanna Arquette. Directed by Christopher Cain. Written by Jill Mazursky Cody and Jeffrey Abrams. Produced by Roger Birnbaum and Julie Bergman Sender. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG for mild violence and language. Running time: 94 min
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