Bop, Cops, Fops, Flops: '88 Has It All

The Expectant Moviegoer turned the page . . . and another . . . and another . . . and wow--520 movies! We could watch one every day and never catch up.

The Cynical Moviegoer frowned. So what--just more bad movies.

What a grouch, thought the Expectant Moviegoer. There are plenty of things missing from American film, but variety isn't one of them.

1988 brings two films based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez stories, a secret George Lukas project, Martin Scorsese's long-awaited "Last Temptation of Christ" and a Clint Eastwood-directed biography of bebop legend Charlie Parker. What more could you want?

Big deal, retorted the Cynical Moviegoer. There's also enough silly stuff on the way to make your head spin.

Wait 'til you're stuck in Sheboygan and have to choose between a film about two teens who summon Abe Lincoln and Genghis Khan to help them pass a history final, a horror pix about invading aliens who disguise themselves as "Killer Klowns" and a comedy about a mental case who escapes from prison and gets a job giving advice on a radio talk show.

OK, conceded the Expectant Moviegoer. Maybe those aren't Oscar candidates. And maybe it's unfair to make sweeping judgments based on a paragraph-long plot summary.

But if you're crazy about movies, who can resist the opportunity to wade through this huge pile of celluloid treats and compile a pre-season cinema scorecard. What are the budding trends? The new genres? The bizarre plot devices?

So this cop dies and then comes back to life as ...: Hollywood loves cop. And it really loves movies that make money. So when "RoboCop" turned out to be a hit, the wheels started turning. The results:

Killed by a mobster, a corrupt cop reawakens as . . . "Zombie Cop."

The late Officer Cordell rises from the grave to become the bloodthirsty and invincible . . . "Maniac Cop."

With the help of a "resurrection table," a dead cop is revived, with only 12 hours to catch his murderers in . . . "Dead Heat."

What am I doing here?: Screenwriters call it the "fish out of water" device, where your lead character is suddenly thrown into an unlikely new setting. It's not very original, but it worked in "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Crocodile Dundee." This year's entries:

Arnold Schwarzenegger as a tough Moscow cop who winds up in Chicago in "Red Heat."

Proper Brit Daniel Day Lewis journeys to darkest red-neck Georgia in "Stars and Bars."

Big-city guy Chevy Chase tries to make it in the rural burg of Redbud in "Funny Farm."

Richard Pryor is a New Jersey transportation engineer who relocates to Idaho in "Moving."

Richard Dreyfuss is an American actor inadvertently caught in a Central American country on the verge of revolution in "Moon Over Parador."

Eddie Murphy stars in a comedy about an African prince who comes to New York in search of a bride.

Nutty movie of the year: Could it be Ken Russell doing Oscar Wilde in "Salome's Last Dance"? Or maybe the 60-year history of Adequate Pictures, the worst studio in Hollywood ("That's Adequate")? Our vote goes to "Uninvited," a horror tale about a genetic engineering foul-up that results in mutant parasites emerging from the mouth of an escaped labratory cat--and terrorizing a crowded luxury yacht.

The Deja Vu Development Dept.: Sometimes feel as if you've seen that movie somewhere before? That's OK--in Hollywood, imitation is often the most commercial form of flattery. So if you missed "Like Father Like Son," maybe you'll enjoy "18 Again," with George Burns' brain ending up inside the body of his grandson. . . . Is "Phantom Empire," where adventurers search for a lost world, a wee bit reminiscent of "Indiana Jones"? . . . Is there an whiff of "48 HRS." in "Pushovers," where a proper British insurance investigator teams up with an outrageous black Gotham cat. . . . Or maybe you'd like a variation on "Hiding Out," where a young cop goes undercover at a local high school in "Plain Clothes." . . . And we'll bet if you liked "F/X," you'll love "The Wizard of Speed and Time," about a special-effects genius who's up against a sinister, sabotage-minded producer.

Fatal attractions: AIDS may have inspired a few condom scenes, but sex still sells around these parts. Expect more torrid tales of passion and obsession. An erotic but erratic woman terrorizes her boyfriend in "Last Rites." Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy get hot in "Fresh Horses." A married woman revives a steamy affair in "Wildfire." Brian Dennehy's marriage falls apart when he becomes infatuated with a French woman in "The Belly of an Architect." After a one-night stand, a woman and her boyfriend are hounded by her troubled lover in "The Drifter." Theresa Russell is a sexually frustrated housewife who takes up with a mysterious stranger in "Track 29." And that's not even counting "Emmanuelle 5."

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