Relentlessly unfunny and frantically directed to disguise its basic lack of inventiveness, OUT ON A LIMB, written by Daniel and Joshua Goldin and helmed by Francis Veber, fails to graft the style of a French farce onto an American action comedy.
Coyly narrated by Marci Van Der Haven (Courtney Peldon) in the form of a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" tell-all to her grade-school class, the film begins with Marci begging her brother Bill Campbell (Matthew Broderick) to come home and investigate her suspicions about her stepfather, Mayor Van
Der Haven (Jeffrey Jones). Although this trip could jeopardize the deal of his career, the boyish finance whiz journeys home to calm Marci's fears that her stepfather has an evil twin, Matt Skearns (Jones again), who took the rap for the Mayor years ago but has come back to collect $150,000 and
exact some revenge.
Before Bill makes it to his frightened sister's side, he becomes entangled in the flight of Sally (Heidi Kling), a wigged-out fugitive who steals his car, clothing and wallet containing a vital telephone number in a business deal worth $140 million. Unfortunately, Sally tosses it into the messy
hovel of the Jim Brothers (Michael Monks and John C. Reilly) and the search is on. While Bill chases after high-strung Sally, Skearns murders his brother, loses his spectacles, nearly buries one of the Jim Brothers alive, assumes the Mayor's identity and pursues Sally who just happened to witness
Before Skearns can put a sizable dent in his late brother's bank account, he shows his true colors. With the bungling local cops in pursuit, Skearns nearly kills Bill and Sally, before he loses his glasses once more and drives his car off a road where the bridge is out. Despite the fact that the
lost telephone number turns out to be a blessing that saves his company millions, Bill has had enough of the rat race. He decides to settle down with feisty Sally and even try to become the next mayor of Buzzsaw.
Not only is the idiotic plot run into the ground, the filmmakers compound their sins with the device of Marci's narration which injects a tone of moppety sweetness into the proceedings. If the audience isn't done in by the cuteness of the classroom scenes, then it's bound to be worn to a frazzle
watching the cast do everything but froth at the mouth to make this material playable. And has there ever been a comic foil so obviously shoe-horned into the plot of a chase comedy (for no other reason than to provide romantic interest) than Sally? The telegraphed slapstick squelches any potential
laughs; the direction exhibits little finesse; the writing doesn't juggle the subplots with any sense of building to a climax; the dialogue doesn't sparkle; the acting, in most cases, seems forced--as if right in the middle of filming the players realized how unfunny the scene was and visibly gave
Broderick's lop-sided grin and boyish appeal remain intact but he can't be expected to work miracles with this cloddish raw material. Connoisseurs of wonderful comediennes will appreciate the efforts of the under-utilized Marian Mercer (JOHN AND MARY, 9 TO 5). They may be less happy with the
dueling performances of Jeffrey Jones, who plays his twin roles as though he's paying homage to John Lithgow in RAISING CAIN. (Violence, some profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG
- Review: Relentlessly unfunny and frantically directed to disguise its basic lack of inventiveness, OUT ON A LIMB, written by Daniel and Joshua Goldin and helmed by Francis Veber, fails to graft the style of a French farce onto an American action comedy. Coyly nar… (more)