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Film review: Airheads

Published: Monday, Dec. 10 2001 3:34 p.m. MST

Three idiot musicians break into a local radio station, demand that their demo tape be played on the air and then find themselves using weapons — albeit toy weapons — to take the station's employees hostage.

This is the high concept plot of "Airheads," an attempt to cross "Dog Day Afternoon" with "This Is Spinal Tap!" — which also steals from "The King of Comedy," "Die Hard" and even "The Blues Brothers."

Unfortunately, all the film's laughs are in the first half hour (and they can all be seen in the theatrical preview), and then it's a tedious spiral downhill as the pro-ceedings become more and more desperate.

Brendan Fraser leads the trio, which includes Steve Buscemi and "Saturday Night Live's" Adam Sandler. All three are competent actors and all have amusing moments. (Sandler's ability to evoke stupidity — he's the dopiest of this dopey crew — provides a couple of big laughs.)

But the best performance comes from Joe Mantegna, as the DJ whose on-air program they interrupt. Apparently, he thought acting was important to this film. It's not, and he's largely wasted.

In the mix are a number of familiar faces, including Chris Farley, Judd Nelson, Michael McKean and — in his third "nice cop" role this year (after "The Crow" and "The Cowboy Way") — the ever reliable Ernie Hudson.

Women fare the worst here, with the two main female characters (Nina Siemaszko, Amy Locane) being portrayed as promiscuous bimbos.

But the most tiresome character is played by Michael Richards (of "Seinfeld" and those Pepsi commercials), which may explain why he simply disappears before the film is over. His nerdy character becomes lost in the radio station's air-conditioning ducts, becomes an aid to a SWAT Team commander and then seems to be forgotten.

This film will also be quickly forgotten by anyone unfortunate enough to sit through it.

"Airheads" is rated PG-13 for considerable raunchiness and probably deserves an R. There is violence, graphic sex, profanity and vulgarity.