Dated and frenetic, MISSING PIECES might have been written by a pool of Bob Hope's former writers at a geriatric home. The result is a road picture that goes all over the place without getting anywhere.
Wendell (Eric Idle) is an orphaned greeting card writer with a plan. He wants to catapult his cellist pal, Lou (Robert Wuhl), to philharmonic fame. But Wendell's good intentions are compromised by an unexpected inheritance.
Mr. Chen Who, one of Wendell's many foster fathers, has left the financially strapped Wendell nothing more than a perplexing riddle. In the course of solving Who's paradox, Wendell squirrels away clues garnered from two sources. The first, a private eye named Baldisari (Richard Belzer), winds up
planted in the trunk of Wendell's car. The other, photographer Paul Thackeray (John De Lancie), dies with a photo of an LA antique shop clutched in his hand. Can Wendell discover the mastermind who ordered these murders, committed by an assassin named Scarface (Don Hewitt)?
Meanwhile, Mr. Who's attorney, Krauss (Leslie Jordan), and a one-armed antique dealer, Gabor (Bob Gunton), are up to no good. Seeking a priceless object identified in Who's riddle, they wheedle their way into Wendell's confidence. Wendell and Lou deduce that the riddle's object is a rare dagger,
But that knowledge leaves Wendell and Lou vulnerable to attack when they travel to LA and stay with Lou's ex-wife and her girlfriend.
At the Melrose Avenue antique store pictured in the photograph, Wendell meets Paul's twin, Walter (John De Lancie), who informs him that a client is holding a clock sold by Chen Who. The homicide suspects multiply to include psychiatrist-coroner Gutman (Bernie Koppel) and Chen Who's cousin, Chang
Lou and Wendell locate the priceless dagger in the clock. 'Twas greedy Gutman who organized the murder conspiracy to get his mitts on the dagger. While Lou battles Scarface, Wendell grapples with Gutman on a rooftop from which he drops the ancient weapon. Gutman then sails over the roof to his
death, and the falling dagger lodges itself in Scarface's back.
Jacked up with enough plot twists for a dozen mysteries, MISSING PIECES aspires to be as diverting as a game of "Clue." But this ramshackle farce mistakes energy for panache. Imagine the Keystone Kops too drunk to master their timing: that's how badly the sight gags are fumbled by the director and
Primarily a verbal comic, Wuhl sputters dialogue with gusto. But even his good lines are drowned in the noisy chaos. Monty Pythonite Eric Idle is no stranger to physical comedy, but he seems ill at ease, as if the pratfalls are beneath him.
Where it needs comic precision, MISSING PIECES shoots itself in the foot by resorting to frantic cavorting and mugging. Ultimately, the proceedings crawl to a standstill in a mystery-burlesque that is too desperate to be funny. (Violence, profanity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: PG
- Review: Dated and frenetic, MISSING PIECES might have been written by a pool of Bob Hope's former writers at a geriatric home. The result is a road picture that goes all over the place without getting anywhere. Wendell (Eric Idle) is an orphaned greeting card wri… (more)