Carpool

on August 23, 1996 by BOXOFFICE Staff
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Released with a G-rated animated short, "Superior Duck." "Carpool" is the kind of idiotic good time that is a little hard on parents but is still the sort of silliness that goes over well with the under-eight crowd. Tom Arnold is affably juvenile in this thinly plotted tale of suburban set pieces, designed mostly to rash cars and toss out zingy (and not so zingy) one-liners. David Paymer ("Quiz Show") plays Daniel Miller, a typical whitebread yuppie dad whose wife falls ill one morning and sticks im with the job of driving the morning carpool of bratty kids to chool. This includes his own two sons, a lovely pre-teen snob, a sluggish little girl and a bizarre kid named Travis who does adorable things like stick gummy bears up his nose. Naturally, Daniel has a big meeting at the office that day, so he's in a mad rush to cart these kids to class and dump them off. Along the way the youngsters complain, naturally, about being hungry and wanting to make a rest stop, and they insist on listening to deafening rock music. And, naturally, Daniel finds all this nerve-shattering. But matters go from bad to worse when he stops at a convenience store to pick up donuts--and stumbles onto a robbery in progress. br>Two dimwit thugs are ready to flee with stolen cash when a financially strapped carnival manager named Franklin Lazlo (Arnold) enters and decides to play hero with his gun. When a cop arrives nd thinks that Franklin is the thief, Franklin hijacks Daniel's vanful of kids to escape, thus beginning a madcap race through the streets of suburban Seattle. There's plenty of tongue-in-cheek dialogue and silly antics by kids and adults alike along the way, plus the obligatory multi-car pileups. The humor is lame, and the action is the kind of low-budget stuff familiar from live-action Disney comedies. Anyone over the age of 12 will feel that life is too short to endure a picture like this, unless they have their small fry in tow. But there's enough harmless, dumb fun here to keep the tykes quiet for a couple of hours, and that as much as the movie may be worth the price of admission.
As an added fillip here, Warner Bros. decided to revive the idea of warming up their feature audiences by opening with an animated short. But "Superior Duck," featuring Daffy as a bumbling superhero, is pretty much of a disappointment. Falling far short of Warner's classic cartoons in both wit and animation, this Chuck Jones Film production seems designed less to entertain than to shoehorn every major Looney Tuner it can into its story, as if reminding us of the good old days was good enough. But Daffy's tedious antics, along with bland cameos by Foghorn Leghorn, Wile E. Coyote, the Tasmanian Devil and Porky Pig, don't really go over. The appeal of the old shorts was that they delighted adult and child alike, yet "Superior Duck" is a string of unimaginative gags. Noticeably absent is Bugs Bunny himself; not that he would have rescued this piece, but it's a curious omission. (Maybe it was in Daffy's contract.) In any case, what with TV's "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" setting the (at least contemporary) standard for visual fun and clever writing from Warner animation, this big-screen effort seems strangely weak. Starring Tom Arnold, Rhea Perlman and David Paymar. Directed by Arthur Hiller. Written by Don Rhymer. Produced by Arnon Milchan and Michael Nathanson. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG for crude humor, mild language and comic action. Running time: 89 min.
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