MOVIE REVIEW : Stars Can’t Overcome the Level of Static in ‘Radio’


The film is called “Destiny Turns on the Radio,” but after a few minutes you may wish it were called “Projectionist Turns Off the Movie.”

The only rationale for this smug, facetious mess--which was developed at the Sundance Institute--is to provide a how-to guide on how not to make a good movie. (Or maybe it’s an anti-fund-raiser for the Sundance Institute.) The director, Jack Baran, has worked as a music supervisor and executive producer for filmmakers such as Jim McBride and Barbet Shroeder, but his arty pretentiousness is all his own. Or maybe it belongs jointly to his screenwriters, Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone. They’ve cooked up a metaphysical snore fest that manages to strand an entire platoon of attractive performers in an oasis of pseudo-hip pseudo-cool.

Dylan McDermott plays Julian, an escaped convict who is rescued in the Nevada desert by a mysterious dude, Johnny Destiny (Quentin Tarantino), driving a Plymouth Roadrunner convertible. In Vegas, hoping to recover his lost loot, he hooks up with his partner in crime, Harry Thoreau (James LeGros), the great-great-grandson of the “Walden” guy, and seeks out an old flame (Nancy Travis) who is now living with a casino mogul (Jim Belushi) who entertains her by doing camp impressions of Elvis in “Viva Las Vegas” (a much, much better movie, incidentally, than “Destiny”).

Along the way performers such as Bobcat Goldthwait, Richard Edson, Tracey Walter and Allen Garfield turn up, mostly to no advantage. (Garfield plays a big shot named Vinnie Vidivici--har, har.) Tarantino breezes through periodically issuing gnomic pronouncements--he’s Destiny, you see.


The low-budget, independently made “Destiny” isn’t awful in the ways that most big-budget studio movies are. It’s clear everybody involved wasn’t trying to make standard Hollywood pap. But the results are so stultifyingly vacuous that pap would have been a godsend.

* MPAA rating: R, for language . Times guidelines: It includes mild violence.


‘Destiny Turns on the Radio’ James Le Gros: Harry Thoreau Dylan McDermott: Julian Goddard Quentin Tarantino: Johnny Destiny Nancy Travis: Lucille A Savoy Pictures release of a Rysher Entertainment presentation. Director Jack Baran. Producer Gloria Zimmerman. Executive producers Keith Samples, Peter Martin Nelson. Cinematographer James L. Carter. Editor Raul Davalos. Costumes Beverly Klein. Music Steve Soles. Production design Jean-Phillippe Carp. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.


* In general release throughout Southern California.