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Meet the Deedles

A sophomoric comedy about a pair of surfer dudes who find themselves adrift in Wyoming, "Meet the Deedles" follows in the wake of the "Bill and Ted" films (whose image and marketing campaigns it emulates) and "Wayne's World." But unlike those hits, there's nothing excellent about this adventure.

Stew Deedle - Steve Van Wormer Phil Deedle - Paul Walker Lt. Jesse Ryan - A.J. Langer Capt. Douglas Pine - John Ashton Frank Slater - Dennis Hopper Elton Deedle - Eric Braeden Crabbe - Richard Lineback Nemo - Robert Englund Mel - Ana Gasteyer Mo - Megan Cavanaugh

A sophomoric comedy about a pair of surfer dudes who find themselves adrift in Wyoming, “Meet the Deedles” follows in the wake of the “Bill and Ted” films (whose image and marketing campaigns it emulates) and “Wayne’s World.” But unlike those hits, there’s nothing excellent about this adventure. While its predecessors were buoyed by star appeal and a built-in fan base, respectively, “Meet the Deedles” lacks the truly hilarious scenes and memorable catch-phrase lexicon that make an impact. Commercial prospects look just fair, with the film likely to appeal only to teenagers, and probably not in a big way.

At the center of the story are Stew (Steve Van Wormer) and Phil Deedle (Paul Walker), fraternal twins, superior surfers and frequent troublemakers. Facing expulsion from school, the Deedles meet with their wealthy, disappointed father (Eric Braeden), who decides that a stint at a Wyoming summer camp will turn his boys into men. Leaving their native Hawaii, the brothers arrive at Jackson Hole with wet suits and optimistic outlooks, but soon find things are not exactly as they planned.

After a series of misadventures, including two major traffic accidents — one involving a truckload of circus animals — and a high-speed skateboarding sequence, the boys awaken with concussions in a hospital.

When Yellowstone Park ranger Capt. Pine (Douglas Ashton) mistakenly identifies the boys as his new recruits, they balk, but quickly recant when the lovely Lt. Jesse Ryan (A.J. Langer) introduces herself as their training officer.

Posing as the recruits, Stew and Phil must tackle a variety of wilderness activities for which they are wholly unprepared. Such challenges as sleeping in a tent, rappelling down a mountainside and eating worms and leaves lead to a predictable array of pratfalls and gags, with physical humor coming at the expense of the boys’ naivete. But the real struggle comes when they’re forced to clean up a prairie dog infestation that threatens the celebration of Old Faithful’s billionth birthday.

The prairie dogs, it seems, are the work of Frank Slater (Dennis Hopper), a disgraced ex-ranger who brought disaster to the park some years earlier with dangerous schemes to boost tourism. Out for vengeance, Slater has unleashed the pesky rodents on the park in an attempt to scare the crowds, divert the geyser to a new location and eventually open a park in his own name.

If all of this sounds ridiculous, it is. Story’s central absurdity is compounded by cheap jokes and scatological humor — one sequence has a busload of tourists and a flock of birds collectively overwhelmed by diarrhea. Only the action sequences — such as the aforementioned skateboard scene and a surfing river rescue — are the least bit exciting, but the river rescue culminates with an aerial shot that looks so phony you can practically see the blue screen used to create the effect.

Fake-looking visual effects notwithstanding, technical credits are above average. David Hennings’ lensing is sharp and clean. Steve Bartek’s score keeps the action percolating and incorporates a pastiche of pop culture references, from “Baywatch” to “Hawaii Five-O” to “Apocalypse Now’s” helicopter “Ride of the Valkyries.”

Thesping is adequate, with Van Wormer, Walker and Langer all engaging and attractive leads. Hopper, by now, can do his wacky villain number in his sleep and adds little new here. There’s also a cameo appearance by Bart the bear, last scene in “The Edge.”

Meet the Deedles

Production: A Buena Vista release of a Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a DIC Entertainment/Peak production. Produced by Dale Pollock, Aaron Meyerson. Executive producers, Andy Heyward, Artie Ripp. Directed by Steve Boyum. Screenplay, Jim Herzfeld, Dale Pollock.

With: Stew Deedle - Steve Van Wormer Phil Deedle - Paul Walker Lt. Jesse Ryan - A.J. Langer Capt. Douglas Pine - John Ashton Frank Slater - Dennis Hopper Elton Deedle - Eric Braeden Crabbe - Richard Lineback Nemo - Robert Englund Mel - Ana Gasteyer Mo - Megan CavanaughCamera (Technicolor, Panavision), David Hennings; editor, Alan Cody; music, Steve Bartek; production design, Stephen Storer; art direction, Linden Snyder; set decoration, Robin Peyton; costume design, Alexandra Welker, Karyn Wagner; sound, Kim B. Christenssen; visual effects supervisor, Tim Landry; associate producers, Christopher Cronyn, Rick Johnson; assistant director, Johnson; casting, Amy Lippens. Reviewed at Crest Theater, L.A., March 21, 1998. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 92 MIN.

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