What’s the excuse for another movie comedy like “Armed and Dangerous” (PG-13, selected theaters)? Sloth, torpor, desperation? This is a movie that couldn’t possibly be good.

It plays like a third-generation dupe print of “Police Academy” with frantic splices from “Beverly Hills Cop,” another “daffy, goofy, sex-crazed guys” comedy set in a Los Angeles populated entirely by bozos, nitwits, boobs, ingenues and cads.

The first 15 minutes have some funny bits, but the movie winds up sapping you. It’s a kind of whoopee-cushion nightmare, as if you woke up one morning and noticed that everyone on the street was drooling on his or her tie.


In “Armed and Dangerous,” the daffy, goofy guys are a pair of misfit security guards played by John Candy and Eugene Levy. These performers have worked together since their SCTV days and, after “Splash,” seemed a natural match-up. But for all the camaraderie they show here, they could have just met when the deal was signed.

Candy’s buffoonishly strong, good-hearted, blundering Irish cop and Levy’s neurotically kvetching, good-hearted, blundering Jewish lawyer wouldn’t support a 5-minute TV sketch, much less a movie. We’re asked to follow this cartoonishly empty pair through a set of empty adventures that includes warehouse holdups, crooked unions and a payroll heist--and climaxes in an explosion.

Naturally, there’s an ingenue (Meg Ryan), who falls in love and risks all for the daffy guys, for no discernible reason. And there’s a brace of goonish security guards--among which Larry Hankin’s dumb hippie stands out--and glowering heavies, including some fine actors you hope were well paid for their sins, like Robert Loggia and Kenneth McMillan.

Harold Ramis’ name has been popping up on scripts these days almost as often as Kilroy’s used to appear on restroom and subway walls in the ‘40s and ‘50s--and it’s getting to be about as reliable a guarantee of quality.

Some of the notions in “Armed and Dangerous” (co-fashioned by another SCTV alumnus, Peter Torokvei) are stillborn: like the one where Candy dresses up as Divine and Levy in see-through black leather pants to avoid the villains at a sex shop. The good jokes in “Armed and Dangerous” can be counted on the toes of one foot. And even though director Mark Lester has a fast, broad-action comedy style that should work for this kind of movie, he misses here as often as he hits.

One scene is amusing; everyone involved should study it. Candy and Levy, exiled to a toxic waste dump, approach a seething sump that looks like a mudbound Dante’s Inferno. Out of the office stagger two gibbering guards (Ira Miller and Royce O. Applegate), who seem in the last stages of toxic degeneration. Everything here--gags, reactions, timing--clicks.


For most of the rest, we’re trapped with brave ingenues, hearty bozos, guards biting dogs and a climax that’s nothing but a big bang. It should have been a whimper.