By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Burglar witnesses a murder.
Bernice who goes by the nickname of Bernie (Whoopi Goldberg) is a cat burglar who gets hired by a dentist named Cynthia Sheldrake (Lesley Ann Warren) who wants Bernie to rob her ex-husband’s apartment and steal back her jewelry. When Bernie enters the apartment she has to hide in the closet when the ex-husband comes home earlier than expected and it is there that she hears him get murdered. Cynthia implicates Bernie in the crime and it is up to Bernie to track down the real killer before the police catch up with her.
The usually entertaining Goldberg doesn’t seem right for the part, which was originally intended for Bruce Willis. Except for a few amusing moments she is not all that funny and seems to be coasting most of the way and even out-of-place. For some reason she wears blue contacts and they look hideous. She also seems just a bit too nice for a career criminal that has spent time in jail and should be little more rough-around-the-edges. Having her constantly concerned about doing the ‘ethical’ thing and only robbing those that ‘deserve’ it doesn’t quite jive.
Bobcat Goldthwait as her dog groomer friend Carl is more of distraction than anything. His quivering, high pitch schtick comes off like someone with a serious psychological or physical problem and more creepy than funny. His line stating that drinking olive oil before drinking alcohol will prevent one from getting drunk later became the amusing basis for the film Calling Bobcat.
The supporting cast ends up being funnier than the two leads. John Goodman and Anne De Salvo have a few good moments as a bickering and perpetually perplexed cop duo. Warren is also good as an all-around bitch and all three performers deserved more screen time.
The film features Whoopi riding a motorcycle and being chased by police down the hilly, winding streets of San Francisco, which to an extent resembled the chase sequence in What’s Up Doc?. However, the chase is so poorly photographed and edited that it becomes hard to follow and nothing more than a collage of jump cuts.
There is another scene where the police try to enter her apartment which is equipped with a steal door, all sorts of booby traps and even a hidden room. On one hand this is kind of funny, but on the other it is wholly unrealistic. If this had occurred in a house that she owned I might have bought into it, but I would think that the noisy construction of all these contraptions would have had her reported to the landlord and she would have been evicted. Also, how is one able to build a hidden room in an apartment building without it affecting the neighboring tenants? There is also the issue that she states earlier that she had just been released from jail, so where did she find the time to build all this stuff?
The story itself lacks intrigue, relies too much on coincidence and eventually becomes implausible. I liked the use of the Bay area locations particularly the fog setting at the end, but otherwise this is just a bunch of overblown nonsense.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: March 20, 1987
Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes
Director: Hugh Wilson
Studio: Warner Brothers
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video