Based on a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, THE BODYGUARD is a dreary, turgid melodrama featuring the much ballyhooed debut of pop diva Whitney Houston. Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is an ex-secret serviceman who, racked with guilt because he was off duty the day President Reagan was shot, is now a bodyguard for hire. His latest client is Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), a pop singer and Academy Award nominee who has recently begun receiving death threats. After a budding romance between the two is quashed by Farmer as a matter of professional protocol, it turns out the threats have been emanating from Rachel's jealous sister Nicki (Michele Lamar Richards), who has hired an assassin to kill Rachel. After accidentally doing away with Nicki, the killer makes a second attempt at the climactic Academy Awards ceremony, during which Rachel takes a very long, slow walk to the podium. THE BODYGUARD should have remained in Kasdan's drawer. It echoes the worst aspects of previous flops like THE FAN and THE OSCAR without any attempt at reworking the lame plots and weak characters of those films. Instead, director Mick Jackson glosses over the shoddiness with a cheap-jack MTV burnish that ultimately serves to highlight the shortcomings of the narrative. As an actress, Whitney Houston is competent but bland; someone must have liked her forgettable songs, however, since the soundtrack album was a best seller.