No need to 'Meet the Deedles'

March 27, 1998|By Robert Philpot | Robert Philpot,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

If you've ever been stuck in tourist gridlock while trying to see Old Faithful erupt, you might not think that shutting it down is all that bad an idea. But corking the geyser is the evil plot at the heart of "Meet the Deedles," a stupid comedy that almost gets by on good-naturedness.

Almost. The movie takes too long to get to where we all know it's going, and provides too few surprises on the way and too little payoff at the end. It's harmless, but it's not exactly rewarding.

The Deedles are 18-year-old surfer-dude twins Stew (Steve Van Wormer) and Phil (Paul Walker) who are mistaken for rookie park rangers. Phil, the marginally better-looking one, quickly falls for a pretty ranger (A.J. Langer); Stew, the marginally smarter one, sets to work trying to solve the park's prairie-dog problem.

Oh, yeah, the prairie-dog problem. Seems that the little critters are running rampant through Yellowstone, creating all sorts of havoc, and a head ranger wants 'em destroyed. You might think it's strange for a park ranger to want to get rid of wildlife, but apparently animatronic animals aren't on the endangered species list.

Anyway, the p-dogs, as the Deedles call 'em, are just a front for a plot by a disgruntled ex-ranger (Dennis Hopper, who else?) to, um, geyser-nap Old Faithful. The Deedles work diligently to fight the park's foes but can't avoid upsetting just about everyone, because, as you know, no good Deedle goes unpunished.

Van Wormer and Walker, who don't look much like twins, are likable enough guys, and screenwriter Jim Herzfeld (who in better days co-wrote "Tapeheads") gives them plenty of boss surfer dialogue. But the movie misses way too many bits: Why have Hopper reprise his "Speed" role if you're not going to riff on it, and why have surfers out of water if they so easily adapt to their surroundings?

As the Deedles might say, take a Pass-a-dena on this one.

'Meet the Deedles'

Starring Steve Van Wormer, Paul Walker, A.J. Langer, Dennis Hopper

Directed by Steve Boyum

Released by Walt Disney

Rated PG (language, sexual innuendo and situations, gross humor)

Sun score: * 1/2

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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