Good cast is not enough to save unfocused 'Kicked'

September 26, 1997|By Jay Boyar | Jay Boyar,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Set on some of the meaner streets of New York's Lower East Side, "Kicked in the Head" is a small film that focuses (so to speak) on the misadventures of a spacey slacker named Redmond (Kevin Corrigan).

Early in the film, Redmond does an errand for his shifty Uncle Sam (James Woods) and ends up with a stash of cocaine that belongs to a gangster (Burt Young). Meanwhile, our unlikely hero is romantically pursued by the hapless Happy (Lili Taylor) while pursuing a tough-talking flight attendant, Megan (Linda Fiorentino).

Corrigan and director Matthew Harrison co-wrote the film; Martin Scorsese ("GoodFellas") is listed as executive producer.

Although the movie's spirit is generally easygoing, the filmmakers reach for deeper significance by trying to make some sort of metaphorical linkage between Redmond and the tragedy of the Hindenberg disaster. There is also much talk of Redmond's "spiritual quest" to write a book about "the truth" and about his "attendant godling" (i.e., guardian angel), who, according to a fortune cookie, "has lost her way."

Since "Kicked in the Head" is a tragically hip film about a slacker, this sort of thing is, of course, handled in an all-too-ironic manner. Still, I got the impression that, on some level, this stuff is meant to be taken seriously. A comic discussion of "Planet of the Apes" films also struck me as partly serious -- an unsuccessful attempt to out-Tarantino Quentin Tarantino.

Sometimes one of the actors -- especially Woods, Fiorentino or Michael Rapaport ("Cop Land") -- gets something going that's compelling or funny enough to make you forget that the movie is going nowhere.

But, finally, Redmond's attendant godling isn't the only one to have lost her way.

'Kicked in the Head'

Starring Kevin Corrigan, Linda Fiorentino and James Woods

Directed by Matthew Harrison

Released by October Films

Rated R (language, violence)

Sun score **

Pub Date: 9/26/97

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