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Two If By Sea

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Two If By Sea

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Denis Leary
Director: Bill Bennett
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: January 1996
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Suspense

*Also starring: Stephen Dillane, Yaphet Kotto, Mike Starr, Wayne Robson, Jonathan Tucker, Michael Badalucco, Lenny Clarke, John Friesen

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows video review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  Dragan Antulov read the review movie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
½ star out of 4

TWO IF BY SEA is a putative comedy reminsent of the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT series. It was released without previews to most critics which is usually a sign that the studio thinks their movie is in trouble. Other than being poorly written (by first time writer Denis Leary), sloppily directed (Bill Bennett), and overacted by every member of the cast, it does have a few redeming features like picturesque views of Nova Scotia.

When the script is not getting on your nerves and the slured, mumbled Bostonian accent so thick that you need subtitles is not driving you crazy, you at least get to relive slapstick comedy scenes from other bad movies. Just to make sure you know they are trying to mimic other movies, one character says to other "who do you think you are, Burt Reynolds?"

The movie starts with a small time crook named Frank O'Brien (Denis Leary) being chased by a dozen cop cars. Frank's girlfriend Roz (Sandra Bullock) is with him. In one of many derivative scenes, she throws their map out the window. The maps covers the window of a police car which then goes into a ditch. I found this slapstick attempt at humor to be a total failure since the acting was so overboard. Two minutes into the movie and the movie is such a stinker that it begins to reek.

Other scenes you have seen a hundred times before include the one where Frank is trying to run while putting his pants on, but he keeps falling down. In another long scene to kill time, we get to watch Frank and Roz try on all the clothes in a huge walk-in closet. We have a flyfishing scene where Frank slips on the rocks, gets his line tangled, and surprise, gets the hook stuck into him. Finally, their version of the Keystone Cops are so stupid that when the cops all board the train, the thiefs get away by walking out the other side.

Within fifteen minutes, I was ready to leave. My wife wanted to stay to see if it picked up; it didn't. I confess that I actually saw all of this piece of drivel. Okay, so I did go to the lobby once for five minutes to escape.

The movie does have a plot. Frank steals a painting which turns out to be more valuable than expected. His fence, Beano (Wayne Robson), then wants to get the painting from him. Detective O'Malley (Yaphet Kotto) of the FBI is convinced that Frank is really famous art thief Phil the Shill even though Phil died over a decade ago. Frank and Roz hide out in a rich but remote area where they are welcomed by local millionaire Evan Marsh (Stephen Dillane). The town is so small that the police station is also the local video store. The only one in town who has Frank and Roz figured out is a kid about 12 years old named Todd (Jonathan Tucker). If you care, you can guess everything that will happen after this.

It takes many people to craft a movie this bad, but prime credit has to go to Denis Leary (from THE REF) who not only gave a pathic acting performance but came up with a script full of inanities. Todd tells Frank how to woo women. He says, "Girls like muscles. They like muscles and romantic dinners." Sometimes Leary thinks he is Frank Capra. His script has Frank O'Brien saying, "People like us are born in little houses and die in little houses, and we've got to find happiness somewhere in between." Inserted into the middle of a bad comedy, this line is totally out of place and does not work at all and even if it did, Leary is incapable of delivering it in a believable fashion.

There is not a character in the show that is realistic and certainly none you care about. In theory there are two romances in TWO IF BY SEA. In reality there is no chemistry between anyone. Bullock, whom I loved in SPEED and liked in THE NET, is given poor direction and manages to be incomprehensible and uninteresting. Kotto seems to be suffering from gas in most of the movie. He just stands around and frowns in most scenes while saying little. Dillane gives a vacuus performance as a mysterious and handsome stranger. The worst performance of the lot is Robson's. Whenever Beano and his band of incompitent small time crooks get on the screen, you want to shut your eyes.

I am amazed to report that some people in my audience actually laughed at some of this stuff. The only thing I could figure out was that they were being tickled by their spouse to past the time.

TWO IF BY SEA runs forever, 1:45 to be exact. It is incorrectly rated R. There is no nudity, sex, or violence. The language is mildly bad in a few scenes. I would have rated it PG-13 and with the deletion of a couple of words, it could have been PG. On the other hand, I strongly recommend that you and your kids stay as far away from this movie as possible. I do give it one half of a star, but only because it did not quite crack the threshold of pain, I reserve for zero star movies.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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