×

Wrongfully Accused

If indeed the time is right to send up the thriller genre exemplified by "The Fugitive," the makers of "Wrongfully Accused" certainly don't do it justice. The broad comedy misses its target except by accident, creating more mess than mirth in its pie-flinging approach to comedy.

With:
Ryan Harrison - Leslie Nielsen Lt. Fergus Falls - Richard Crenna Lauren Goodhue - Kelly Le Brock Cass Lake - Melinda McGraw Hibbing Goodhue - Michael York Dr. Fridley - Sandra Bernhard Sean Laughrea - Aaron Pearl Sgt. Tina Bagley - Leslie Jones Sgt. Orono - Ben Ratner

If indeed the time is right to send up the thriller genre exemplified by “The Fugitive,” the makers of “Wrongfully Accused” certainly don’t get the job done. The broad comedy misses its target — except for some accidental hits — creating more mess than mirth in its pie-flinging approach to comedy. Though the film has already grossed more than $ 5 million in three weeks of release in Germany and Austria, domestic prospects aren’t comparably strong. It’s unlikely to open to major B.O., but will most certainly be sentenced to a brief commercial term prior to heading to video shelves.

The story, at least initially, is a clone of the Harrison Ford movie inspired by the 1960s TV series. Ryan Harrison (Leslie Nielsen) is a superstar classical violinist who wields a near-lethal bow. He becomes romantically involved with the wife (Kelly Le Brock) of his benefactor (Michael York), and quicker than you can say catgut, his cash cow is murdered by mercenaries and Ryan is set up to take the fall. But on the way to death row, the transport bus is involved in an accident with a train and the musician seizes his opportunity to run, planning to track the real culprit — a one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed man — and clear his name.

Doggedly on his trail is Lt. Fergus Falls (Richard Crenna), a bloodhound who’s quick with a malapropism and thoroughly adept at stumbling on, and over, clues.

In the course of the pic’s brisk 85 minutes, writer-director Pat Proft executes a “more is more” policy, assaulting the audience with an “Airplane” full of verbal and visual gags. In addition to the obvious homage, he spoofs such films as “Clear and Present Danger,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Chinatown,” “North by Northwest” and even “Titanic.” But the best gags pop up in the closing credits, which should tell you something about what precedes the finale.

While certainly no less game or sanguine than in the past, Nielsen seems to be suffering the weight of too many films with second-rate material and road-company casts. Only Crenna, who effects an indomitable obliviousness, rises above the staid, stunned acting ensemble.

Proft’s directing debut is unremarkable, a sort of sub–Zucker Brothers’ piece that’s well paced, paper-thin on narrative development and visually serviceable. Some recent spoofs have made the commercial grade, but generally, the genre’s high points — exemplified by Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” — are few and far between.

Wrongfully Accused

Production: A Warner Bros. release of a James G. Robinson presentation of a Morgan Creek production in co-production with Constantin Film. Produced by Robinson, Bernd Eichinger and Pat Proft. Co-producer, Bobby Herbeck. Executive producers, Robert L. Rosen, Gary Barber, Martin Moskowicz. Co-executive producer, Robert Kulzer. Direction and screenplay by Proft, based on characters created by Roy Huggins.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Glen MacPerson; editor, James R. Symons; music, Bill Conti; violin advisor, Mark Ferris; production design, Michael Bolton; art director, Sandy Cochrane; set decorator, Lin MacDonald; sound (Dolby Digital), Rob Young; stunt coordinator, Guy Bews; assistant director, Pete Whyte; casting, Karen Rea, Stuart Aikins. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Reviewed at the UA Westwood, Los Angeles, Aug. 4, 1998. Running Time: 85 MINS.

With: Ryan Harrison - Leslie Nielsen Lt. Fergus Falls - Richard Crenna Lauren Goodhue - Kelly Le Brock Cass Lake - Melinda McGraw Hibbing Goodhue - Michael York Dr. Fridley - Sandra Bernhard Sean Laughrea - Aaron Pearl Sgt. Tina Bagley - Leslie Jones Sgt. Orono - Ben Ratner

More Film

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r)

    Submissions Now Welcome for Third 'Meet the Press' Film Festival

    Chuck Todd’s quest to bring “Meet the Press” to the movies continues. The third annual Meet the Press Film Festival, held in collaboration with the American Film Institute, will take place on October 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C., and remains a haven for issue-focused documentary shorts. Todd believes the event serves a critical mission: [...]

  • Challenges Still Keep Content From Traveling

    Cannes: Challenges Still Keep Content From Traveling to and From China

    Challenges still remain when it comes to buying, distributing and producing content that can travel between China and the West, attendees of a panel organized by the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival on the sidelines of Cannes said. Cai Gongming, president of Road Pictures, has hit box office gold in China with Cannes art-house titles such [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Cannes Film Review: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in 'The Lighthouse'

    “The Lighthouse,” the second feature directed by Robert Eggers (“The Witch”), is a gripping and turbulent drama that draws on a number of influences, though it merges them into its own fluky gothic historical ominoso art-thriller thing. Set in the 1890s, and suffused with foghorns and epic gusts of wind, as well as a powerfully [...]

  • Cannes: Diao Yinan Explains His Artistic

    Diao Yinan on Cannes Pic 'Wild Goose Lake': 'I Try to Portray the Opposite of a Utopia'

    In competition in Cannes with “Wild Goose Lake,” director Diao Yinan explained Sunday why he’s fascinated by dark crime thrillers – and why his new film features dialogue in China’s Wuhan dialect. “Such thrillers are not only an exercise in style; they’re also full of dramatic tension, and when you combine style with dramatic tension, [...]

  • CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 18:

    Cannes: Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party at the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the restaurant of [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson: 'The Lighthouse' Rehearsal Was a 'Pressure Cooker'

    Rehearsal for director Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” wasn’t as long as Robert Pattinson remembers. “I’ve never rehearsed like I rehearsed with Robert before,” Pattinson said at the first screening of the period thriller on Sunday morning. “We rehearsed for what, three weeks?” Actually, no — it was only one week! “One, but it felt like [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content