Supposedly hard-boiled Rob Lowe vidpic about a Southern California visitor falling in league with tough eggs has all the tension of a souffle. A routine plotline and plastic, met-before secondary characters don't shore up much believability, and Lowe's character simply doesn't show good sense. Vidpic, instead of developing a credible denouement, just shrivels. Architect Walter's busy chatting on the phone on a whizzing near-L.A. freeway as an enormous truck tries passing him, but Walter's talking to his pregnant wife Linda (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) back in Seattle. The annoyed trucker tries to get him to pay attention, but he's engrossed in Linda's problem: Her half-mad ex-husband Oliver may be stalking her.

Walter lands in an ugly, dark apartment in L.A. Managed by a grotesque, William (Dean Stockwell), housing an obnoxious East-Berliner, Dieter (Patrick Ersgard, one of the writers of the misguided effort), and hooker Catherine (Alex Meneses), Walter’s temporary, home-away-from-home leaves everything to be desired.

Main point is that Walter calls the truck company and reports the driver, who’s fired for saluting Walter inappropriately. With nothing but time on his hands, the driver’s apparently out to get back at Walter, who next meets his hard-nosed client, Harrison.

Quickly Walter’s agonies mount. His car window’s broken, rats turn up in his bed, his tomato-soup-red apartment’s ransacked, and he can’t get any satisfying work done for quarrelsome client Harrison. Director Jack Ersgard, who seems to know more cliches than he can shake a stick at, works up little interest in the paste-up characters.

The actors are at a loss. Lowe goes through the motions of looking scared a couple of times, while Belushi fails to make much contact with the curious character of Harrison. Stockwell hammers home the manager role in OK fashion, and a bearded, hirsute Richard Moll as a gun salesman acts fierce. Meneses as Catherine the prostie overplays; Wheeler-Nicholson, Walter’s nervous wife, suffices.

Too many well-known ploys turn up, and the good-hearted tart is done to death. The writers show little inventiveness or creativity, and the hero’s stranded among the cliches.

Ross Berryman’s camerawork is routine, as is Chris Peppe’s editing. Production designer Narbeh Nazarian’s use of Glendale sites and his cunningly depressing apartment house interiors (built entirely on a set at Front Street Studios in Burbank) lend some authenticity to the thin vidpic.

Living in Peril

Sat. (21), 9-11 p.m., The Movie Channel

Production

Filmed in Glendale and at Front Street Studios, Burbank, by Green Communications and Emerald Entertainment LLC. Executive producers, Marion Oberauner, Juan Collas, Jerry Ang; producers, Talaat Captan, Brad Southwick; director, Jack Ersgard; writers, Patrick Ersgard, Jesper Ersgard, Jack Ersgard

Crew

camera, Ross Berryman; editor, Chris Peppe; production designer, Narbeh Nazarian; sound, Bill Reinhardt; music, Randy Miller; casting, Donald Paul Pemrick, Dean E. Fronk.

Cast

Rob Lowe, James Belushi, Dean Stockwell, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Alex Meneses, Richard Moll, Tony Longo, Patrick Ersgard, Earl Boen, Pamela Brull, Earl Billings, Richard Partlow, Elise Rothberg, Stan Yale, Brian Cousins, Ray Baker, Peter Spelloss, Jonathan Frazer, Joe Jokuet, Carrie Robinson.
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