'Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde' is a Ms.-take

September 04, 1995|By David Kronke | David Kronke,Los Angeles Times

In the laughless and lifeless "Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde," Tim Daly plays Richard Jacks, a scientist at a perfume company whose career is in a downward spiral when he inherits some papers written by his great-grandfather, Dr. Henry Jekyll. Yes, that Dr. Jekyll.

Jacks messes around with his ancestor's infamous formula, and before you can say " 'Young Frankenstein' did all this much more cleverly," he's morphing into Helen Hyde, who is, of course, a woman.

That's what passes for comic invention here. Getting Sean Young to ostensibly parody her quixotic media image by playing Hyde, who exploits her feminine wiles to claw her way over Jacks and up the corporate ladder, might have been funny six or seven years ago when that reputation was fresh on people's minds.

Directed by David Price, who has a couple of barely released horror sequels on his resume, and credited to four writers who usually labor as script doctors (script physicians, heal thine own screenplay!), "Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde" is a smirky, uninspired work that treats all its characters as one-dimensional dopes.

Plotting is both illogical and predictable -- Jacks' and Hyde's transformations occur at the most inconvenient times -- and paste-and-stitch editing, working in tandem with klutzy voice-over narration, can't mask the fact that many scenes have been drastically altered or jettisoned altogether. For example, Robert Wuhl turns up in the finale without any explanation of who his character is or why he's there.

The sexist humor here is as dated as the drug humor in "Jekyll and Hyde . . . Together Again," the similarly hapless 1982 cinematic parody of the Robert Louis Stevenson yarn. Before Helen barters her sex appeal for company muscle, she's embraced by various characters as being "alive" and "her own person" -- for doing what? Shopping, mainly.

Not surprisingly, no one's heart seems to be in this. Some of the cast (such as Ms. Young) barely put forth any effort, while those who do try (such as Mr. Daly) only embarrass themselves with their broad, reaching performances.

Unlike the tormented Hyde of lore, there's nothing redeeming in this movie struggling to get out.

MOVIE REVIEW

"Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde"

Starring Tim Daly and Sean Young

Directed by David Price

Released by Rastar

Rated PG-13 (sexual themes, nudity, language)

*

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