Clean Slate

Directed by Mick Jackson. Starring Dana Carvey, Valeria Golino, James Earl Jones, Kevin Pollack, Michael Murphy, Michael Gambon. (1994)

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 13, 1994

Didn't Dana Carvey learn anything from his last Hollywood debacle, the odious, wildly unpopular Opportunity Knocks? From the looks of things, I guess not. Clean Slate is another cheap knockoff film designed to revolve around/cash in on the popularity of a Saturday Night Live comic talent, and it feels like in, in spades. The premise here is that Carvey is M.L. Pogue, a low-end private dick who, due to the aftereffects of a car bomb, acquires amnesia every time he goes to sleep. Consequently, he has difficulty remembering who's after him, who's in love with him, and why his dog keeps bumping into things. It's a decent enough hook from which to hang a comedy/love story/gumshoe drama of the Clean Slate variety, but Carvey seems to be so desperately eager to please that it's hard to care one way or another. Freed from the constraints of live sketch comedy, Carvey once again proves himself a numbingly bland and ultimately forgettable big-screen presence. His private-eye Pogue is an average guy, just trying to keep his head in one piece as unknown bad guys descend around him. Big deal. Mick Jackson directs with all the dynamic punchiness of a penny loafer, sailing this sinking vessel around and through the varied plot holes until you feel the pressing need for Dramamine and more. It's a safe bet to relegate Carvey to the Lovitz/Chase/Aykroyd triumvirate of those SNL performers who, perhaps, should have consulted with Latoya Jackson's Psychic Goons Network before embarking on solo theatrical careers. The most forgettable amnesiac comedy yet.
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