The title doesn't sound very promising, and the fact that ''Kuffs'' is being presented by Dino De Laurentiis is not particularly reassuring, but that's the way it is with the movie business; it is full of surprises, and ''Kuffs'' is one.
Co-authored by Bruce Evans and Raynold Gideon, ''Kuffs'' sneaks up on you. Before you know it, you're laughing and having a good time.
The film does begin on an ominous note. Christian Slater, the star, looks at the camera and begins talking to us. This isn't always a sure sign that we are in for a good time, but the movie is less than 20 minutes old when it becomes very funny. We don't have a laugh a minute here, but there are sufficient laughs throughout, and none is really lowbrow. Even the physical humor is good.
Tony Goldwyn, who plays a policeman, has to pretend that he has swallowed coffee loaded with sleeping pills. This is expert clowning.
Slater plays a 21-year-old loser who visits San Francisco to mooch on his brother, a Patrol Special owner. That's a description that calls for explanation. Apparently, San Francisco has a number of Patrol Specials, areas that were sold off to private police groups at a time when the San Francisco police department was understaffed.
''Kuffs'' tells us that these districts exist today, that the men who patrol them work in association with the San Francisco police.
Bruce Boxleitner plays Brad Kuffs, older brother to George Kuffs (Slater). The older Kuffs wants his younger brother to join him, but before George can do that, Brad is shot dead in a church.
That's novel. It's also rather interesting, as is the rest of the film, one that is almost steadily amusing, with Slater and Goldwyn giving us most of the laughs.
The movie does come close to comic book, but we are prepared for this the moment George begins talking to us.
The only thing working against the film is the score, one that soundstoo much like the scores for the ''Beverly Hills Cop'' movies. This, though, may have been intentional. ''Kuffs'' plays a lot like the Eddie Murphy movies.
Milla Jovovich is the girl who loves George and is having his child,and George De La Pena is one of the lead villains, a man who hopes to buy much of the district by scaring the property owners into selling.
''Kuffs'' may be seen at local houses. If you're looking for a very good action comedy, try this one.
*** A young man with no future takes over a private police district that has been willed to him by his brother.
CAST: Christian Slater, Milla Jovovich, Bruce Boxleitner, George De La Pena.
DIRECTOR: Bruce A. Evans
RATING: R (language, violence)
( RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes