A lame meld of comedy, thriller and romance, “Off and Running” doesn’t make it far out of the starting blocks. Second attempt by Cyndi Lauper to forge a screen career (after the 1988 “Vibes”) will only appeal to the petite popster’s hardened devotees.
Made in 1990, and already shown on the inflight circuit, pic has been sneaked out, sans press previews, to a handful of U.K. sites by local distrib Rank. With her pretzel voice and offbeat looks, Lauper still shows evidence of being a passable screwball thesp given a decent script and director, but she gets neither here.
Lauper plays a tacky would-be actress, marking time in Florida as a mermaid in a hotel bar pool. Proposed to by stud-farm owner Jose Perez, she flees north when Perez is killed by a greedy business associate, closely pursued by a martial artist heavy with an Elvis hairdo (Michael Thornton, since become Mr. Lauper).
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En route she meets up with nice guy David Keith, a golf pro, and street-smart Latino kid Johnny Pinto, who swallows a key Thornton is after. Weak finale, back on Perez’s farm, reveals the key unlocks a canister containing frozen sperm of a megabuck racehorse.
Pop-colorful main title crawl, and Lauper’s early voiceover, promises a loopy kind of comedy a la Susan Seidelman. There are occasional moments, too, with Lauper’s tart one-liners when echoes of the same can still be heard.
But the pic’s labored pace, and Edward Bianchi’s relentlessly flat direction, sinks the enterprise early on. Keith works hard and is OK under the circumstances, but the only real sparks fly from Anita Moore’s cameo as Lauper’s ditzy mom.
Technically, pic is only average, with some poor sound balancing and lackluster color. For the record, Lauper warbles segments of three songs, “Blue Moon,””Big Spender” and “Unabbreviated Love.”