1992, PG-13, 90 min. Directed by Thom Eberhardt. Starring Mary Kay Place, Martin Short, Kurt Russell.
REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., Sept. 25, 1992
Snake Plissken!?! I thought he was dead! Nope, he's just hopped islands (from Manhattan to the Caribbean) and traded motorcycle boots and bitterness for rubber thongs and “don't worry, be happy-ness.” This time, his mission is to rescue the hapless Harvey family from their ho-hum midwest existence. He does this by plunging them into uncharted waters and exposing them to the riskier elements of life. After inheriting The Wanderer, an old sailing ketch once owned by Clark Gable, the Harveys (Martin Short and Mary Kay Place) are spurred to cast off the trappings of their workaday life, take their children out of school and head for the adventure and spontaneity of the high seas, not to mention the romance of the isle of St. Pomme de Terre. No new depths are plumbed here. The crusty but benign captain's penchant for risk is in no way reflected in the predictable storyline. But a terrific cast, good pacing and some smart, funny dialogue bring an occasional fresh breeze to what is essentially a stale formula comedy. Short's performance is remarkably restrained and his vulnerably earnest dad is an engaging foil to Russell's loutishly charming seaman. Place's mom holds her own, managing to be smart, sexy and maternal. And Paul Anka has a wonderful turn as a too-tan, navy-emblazoned yacht broker. The Wanderer evokes the glamour of a bygone era and the sailing scenes perfectly capture the curious combination of exhilaration and tranquility intrinsic to the sport. So what is all this good stuff doing stuck in such a tired old plot? Unfathomable. Still, they come as a pleasant surprise. And I can guarantee that if you liked the ads for this picture, you'll love the movie.