Another old tv series is revisited and updated for the '90's.
However, this lacklustre big screen version of The Mod Squad, which
originally ran from 1968 to 1973, joins other dud adaptations such as
The Beverly Hillbillies, Lost In Space and the recent My Favourite
The original series centred around a squad of delinquent
teenagers put back onto the streets by a tough but sympathetic cop,
who used them to infiltrate seedy bars and clubs and street gangs in
an effort to fight crime. This big screen version takes the same
premise, but basically trashes it with a formulaic and unoriginal plot
that involves crooked cops and illicit drug deals.
This '90's version also loses the rebellious
anti-establishment undercurrents that were prevalent in the '60's and
'70's, and which gave the series an unusual edge. This new look Mod
Squad is little more than an average television movie, and is unlikely
to appeal to the same audiences that remember the similarly themed 21
Jump Street with more affection. The script is trite and predictable,
the dialogue terribly clichéd and the characters one dimensional.
Scott Silver's direction is pedestrian.
The three stars lack rapport, and their performances are
uncomfortable, flat and uncharismatic. Claire Danes does the best she
can with the undemanding role of Julie Barnes, the street wise former
drug addict. Giovanni Ribisi (from The Other Sister, Saving Private
Ryan, etc) brings an intensity to his performance as Pete Cochrane,
the rich kid turned bad, that seems misplaced given the almost comic
book quality of the material. Omar Epps (from Higher Learning, etc)
gives his Linc Hayes all the life and energy of a lump of wood.
Veteran Dennis Farina is wasted as the squad's mentor Adam Greer,
whose murder kick-starts the plot.
The ending conveniently leaves the way open for a sequel.
However, if prolific producer Aaron Spelling was hoping to turn The
Mod Squad into a successful new movie series he has sadly under
estimated the intelligence of the audience and over estimated the
quality of the banal script.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King