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Bushwhacked

Dumb fun best sums up "Bushwhacked," an uninspired comic hash directed at adolescents and starring Daniel Stern as a much-put-upon lunkhead. Riddled with noble sentiments and good intentions, this great-outdoors hijinx is hiking familiar trails with a combination of bathroom humor, cute kids and a fuzzy, happy ending.

With:
Max Grabelski - Daniel Stern
Agent Palmer - Jon Polito
Jack Erickson - Brad Sullivan
Mrs. Patterson - Ann Dowd
Bragdon - Anthony Heald
Agent McMurrey - Tom Wood

Dumb fun best sums up “Bushwhacked,” an uninspired comic hash directed at adolescents and starring Daniel Stern as a much-put-upon lunkhead. Riddled with noble sentiments and good intentions, this great-outdoors hijinx is hiking familiar trails with a combination of bathroom humor, cute kids and a fuzzy, happy ending. Box office should be equally predictable, performing just OK on the domestic theatrical front and as ancillary programming fodder.

Half-baked premise finds born loser and delivery boy Max Grabelski (Stern) set up to take the fall for a money-laundering businessman. He’s in the wrong place with the right package when flat-footed G-men arrive on the scene.

Of course they jump to the wrong conclusion, pegging the hapless guy with the murder of the high-rolling scam artist.

On the lam from the law, he manages to find out that the dead man had one more funny-money drop scheduled. It’s three days away in the rugged wilderness resort of Devil’s Peak.

The coincidence-reliant tale stacks up into a neat house of cards. The capper is that Max is mistaken for a veteran wilderness guide. And he’s lucky enough to run smack into the six youngsters the real mountain man was supposed to take up the hill for an overnight commune with Mother Nature. He just alters course and marches off to Devil’s Peak.

Less a script than a series of sketches, “Bushwhacked” is thin even compared with other movies in the summer-camp genre. The humor evolves from the most obvious situations and is served up so that a blind man could readily discern the sight gags.

Faced with the most meager of acting challenges, Stern relies on the Mr. Hyde side of his screen persona — the bad half that mugs shamelessly. His flailing performance, rather than obscuring the considerable limitations of the material, merely heightens them. In contrast, such reliable physical character performers as Jon Polito and Brad Sullivan seem sanguine.

Director Greg Beeman lends the work less than a scintilla of personality. It’s thoroughly workmanlike and forgettable. In this instance, running for the hills provides no safe haven.

Bushwhacked

Production: A 20th Century Fox release. Produced by Charles B. Wessler, Paul Schiff. Executive producer, Daniel Stern. Co-producer, David Wisnievitz. Directed by Greg Beeman. Screenplay, John Jordan, Danny Byers , Tommy Swerdlow, Michael Goldberg, from a story by Jordan and Byers.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Theo Van deSande; editor, Ross Albert; music, Bill Conti; production design, Mark Mansbridge, Sandy Veneziano; art direction, Bruce Crone; costume design, Mary Zophres; sound (Dolby), Tim Cooney; assistant director, Tom Davies. Reviewed at 20th Century Fox Studios, L.A., July 25, 1995. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 90 min.

With: Max Grabelski - Daniel Stern
Agent Palmer - Jon Polito
Jack Erickson - Brad Sullivan
Mrs. Patterson - Ann Dowd
Bragdon - Anthony Heald
Agent McMurrey - Tom Wood
With: Blake Bashoff, Corey Carrier, Michael Galeota, Max Goldblatt, Ari Greenberg, Janna Michaels, Art Evans.

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