The most disturbing thing about this two-hour cable telefilm is its cynicism and the fact that none of the characters seemed redeemed, or at least changed, by their experiences. This is not to say it won't hold one's interest, if only for the scenario, which delivers lots of bare backs, naked legs and superficially steamy sex scenes.

The most disturbing thing about this two-hour cable telefilm is its cynicism and the fact that none of the characters seemed redeemed, or at least changed, by their experiences. This is not to say it won’t hold one’s interest, if only for the scenario, which delivers lots of bare backs, naked legs and superficially steamy sex scenes.

Overall, this is a formulaic story that’s meant to be superficially entertaining. But the film’s greatest hole is scripter Clyde Allen Hayes’ inability to render believable or discernible character development. Marion Poley (Jack Coleman) is recovering from a car accident that ruined his baseball career and killed his fiancee. Now he’s eking out a living massaging tony clientele and assuaging his pain with loveless affairs and sports gambling. Soon his debts total $ 30,000 and the people he owes are eager for him to pay up.

Client Harry Orwitz (William Devane) offers Marion a cool $ 50,000 to sleep with his wife, which would break a clause in their pre-nuptial agreement. Marion thinks this will be a piece of cake since he’s already involved with Orwitz’s wife.

But here’s the rub: The woman Marion believes to be Jordy Orwitz is an impostor (Catherine Oxenberg) hired by someone to set him up. After Orwitz is found dead, the real Jordy Orwitz (Michelle Phillips) returns to town and the police place Marion under suspicion.

Coleman’s face has a combination of world-weary pessimism and bravado, but this frozen quality may distance the audience. Devane is just smarmy enough to be dislikable. As the uncle of Marion’s dead fiancee, Alan Thicke is coolly threatening. Unfortunately, the script gives him only a handful of appearances.

Director Stuart Cooper does an adequate job, but mostly the somnambulistic performances lack any emotional resonance.

Women here are little more than window dressing — big hair, beautiful clothes and the promise of voluptuousness.

Most notable are the way San Diego and its oceanfront harbor are beautifully and skillfully photographed by Reed Smoot, and Gerald Gouriet’s coolly smooth, jazz-influenced musical score.

Usa World Premiere Movie Rubdown

(Wed. (15), 9-11 p.m., USA)

Production

Filmed in San Diego by Wilshire Court Prods. in association with Fast Track Films. Producer, Ed Milkovich; director, Stuart Cooper; writer, Clyde Allen Hayes.

Crew

Camera, Reed Smoot; editor, Cari Coughlin; production designer, Gary Constable; sound, Trevor Black; music, Gerald Gouriet.

Cast

Cast: Michelle Phillips, Jack Coleman, William Devane, Catherine Oxenberg, Alan Thicke, Kent Williams, Jack Angeles, Michael Ray Miller, Ron Johnson, Kane Hodder, Patricia Clipper, Chris Cardona, Paul Nolan, David Partington, Percy Simpson Jr., Bernard Balden, Ken Myles, Deprise Brescia, Yavonne Evans, Clement Blake, Matt Hannigan, Rochelle Swanson, Christopher Johnson, Elizabeth Armijo, Caleb Rapoport.
With its provocative title and some elements of classic film noir, "Rubdown" is essentially a slow-paced detective yarn for the downward-mobility generation.
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