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Undercover Blues

Directed by Herbert Ross. Starring Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, Stanley Tucci, Larry Miller, Obba Babatunde.

REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., Sept. 17, 1993

When I was a kid, my mom would pop up a grocery bag full of popcorn, let us each pick a can from the tantalizing array of Shasta soda pop flavors, pile us all into our blue Impala convertible and head for the drive-in where, it seemed, a new Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie played each week. I loved those goofy movies filled with Doris's righteous indignation and gooey close-ups, Rock's suave pretty boy sneers and Madison Avenue glibness, bumbling crooks and teased-hair temptresses. But then, I also loved the Shasta Black Cherry soda pop I chose to wash down my popcorn. Undercover Blues's pairing of Turner and Quaid as Jane and Jeff Blue is meant, I suspect, to have more of a Nick and Nora Charles/Thin Man magic to it, but instead it falls somewhere between that wittily urbane duo and the sophisticated but mundane Rock and Doris. I'm not certain whether that's due to the leads or to the determinedly cheery direction Ross gives this caper, but Undercover Blues has a weird retro feel to it. American superspies Jane and Jeff have taken some time off to enjoy parenthood and a vacation in New Orleans. On a mission to procure formula (for baby Jane), Jeff takes on a couple of street muggers with one baby behind his back. His offhand competence earns him the fury and film-long vengeance of the self-proclaimed Muerte (Tucci), a leather-clad grandiose hood whom Jeff insists on calling Morty. Proving further that their vacation is no getaway, the couple is lured back to their calling (no lofty patriotism involved here, rather an extra bonus and extended maternity leave do the trick) to once again outwit their chief nemesis Novacek (Shaw). The action and intrigue is secondary to the players, however, and this movie is chock-full of hilarious performances. Turner, though as dewy-eyed as Doris Day, proves again that she is a comedienne to reckon with, and Quaid's playboy-tamed-only-by-domestic-bliss nonchalance is nearly as well played. Their repartee, while not up to the standards of Nick and Nora, is fast and funny and good-natured. In fact, this whole movie is so good-natured, I think I might have enjoyed a Shasta Black Cherry soda pop with my popcorn. Well, maybe some berry-flavored sparkling water…
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