Monday April 15, 1996
When a movie starring Dan Aykroyd, Lily Tomlin and Jack Lemmon opens without press previews, you can't help but suspect that something's gone wrong with it. Alas, just about everything is wrong with "Getting Away With Murder," which opened Friday.
It is truly appalling. Aykroyd plays an ethics professor at a Northeastern college whose immediate neighbor, a kindly, much loved gentleman (Lemmon), is accused of being a notorious Nazi war criminal. Rather than fight to clear himself, the frail German immigrant prepares for deportation to Ecuador.
This does not satisfy the prof, who promptly murders him without seeming to give much--if any--thought to the possibility that his neighbor might actually be a victim of mistaken identity, a development that derails this would-be comedy permanently. What follows is relentlessly tedious and tasteless.
It defies imagination to think that anyone could get away with "Getting Away With Murder," especially plodding writer-director Harvey Miller, who has no flair for pitch-dark humor whatsoever.
What the film is really about is how a self-absorbed, self-righteous numskull with a craving for publicity can ultimately prevail, and to his credit Aykroyd plays this jerk valiantly, as if the guy could be worthy of our consideration even when he isn't.
Canny pros that they are, Lemmon and Tomlin, as his unctuous daughter, register effectively even though nothing they or Aykroyd could possibly do could save this hopeless picture, which has an appropriately drab look to it.
Getting Away With Murder, 1996. R, for some sexual situations. A Savoy Pictures presentation in association with Rank Film Distributors of a Parkway/Price Entertainment production. Writer-director Harvey Miller. Producers Frank Price, Penny Marshall. Executive producers Elliot Abbott, Frederic W. Brost. Cinematographer Frank Tidy. Editor Richard Nord. Music John Debney. Production designer John Jay Moore. Art director Jeff Ginn. Set decorator Tracey Doyle. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. Dan Aykroyd as Jack Lambert. Lily Tomlin as Inga Mueller. Jack Lemmon as Max Mueller/Karl Luger. Bonnie Hunt as Gail Holland.