You have to wonder what in the name of Curly Howard possessed acting powerhouses Joe Pesci and Danny Glover to play a pair of minus numbers from Jersey in “Gone Fishin,’ ” a mirthless, graceless slapstick comedy with little to recommend it except some Florida scenery--which, come to think of it, isn’t all that scenic.
The only possible explanation for this movie’s existence--and this is a stretch and a half--is that somebody, somewhere, liked the chemistry between Pesci and Glover in two consecutive “Lethal Weapon” movies enough to think they could commit entertaining mayhem anywhere.
But somebody, somewhere, should have figured out that playing dumb requires a tricky balance of abandonment and timing in order to make an audience laugh. And despite their considerable, well-deserved credentials, neither Pesci nor Glover is as good at doofus shtick as, say, Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels in “Dumb and Dumber.”
Then again, it may be that Glover is just too dignified to be believed as the kind of guy who shatters everything he touches. Pesci fares better, especially in a fancy restaurant scene when he’s slurping red wine. But you wish the story gave him a chance to explode as only he can.
Ah, yes. The story. Pesci and Glover are longtime chums who win a fishing vacation in Florida. Pesci’s wife, the shamefully underused Carol Kane, foresees trouble. Sure enough, they haven’t been in the Sunshine State for a minute before their car is swiped by a sinister con man who is himself the target of a search by two women (Rosanna Arquette, Lynn Whitfield). Why are they looking for him? Why are they even in this movie? To give Pesci and Glover someone to ogle?
The listless succession of scenes in which boats crash (stuntwoman Janet Wilder was killed last year doing one such stunt), furniture breaks and rooms explode gives fresh meaning to the expression “senseless violence.” Willie Nelson’s literally incandescent cameo as the boys’ fishing hero gives flickering hope that something unusual might happen. But he drifts away with the wreckage. Hope they paid you well, cowboy.
* MPAA rating: PG, for mild violence and language. Times guidelines: A couple of scary moments.
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‘Gone Fishin’ ’
Joe Pesci: Joe Waters
Danny Glover: Gus Green
Rosanna Arquette: Rita
Lynn Whitfield: Angie
Willie Nelson: Billy “Catch” Pooler
A Roger Birnbaum production, released by Hollywood Pictures. Director Christopher Cain. Producers Birnbaum, Julie Bergman Sender. Screenplay by Jill Mazursky Cody & Jeffrey Abrams. Cinematographer Dean Semler. Editor Jack Hofstra. Costumes Lizzy Gardiner. Music Randy Edelman. Production design Lawrence Miller. Art directors Michael Rizzo, Phil Dagort. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
* In general release throughout Southern California.