In the comedy-thriller "Year of the Comet," Penelope Ann Miller and Tim Daly try their darnedest to be the Grace Kelly and Cary Grant of the '90s, but they wind up more like the Cybill Shepherd and Burt Reynolds of the '70s.
And the film itself is more like a hard-to-remember TV movie of the week than "To Catch a Thief" or "North By Northwest," which are its most obvious inspirations.
This is especially disheartening since it comes from the typewriter of William Goldman, who has given us a wide range of excellent films including "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men" and "The Princess Bride," and the direction of Peter Yates, most famous for "Bullitt" and "Breaking Away."
But "Year of the Comet" is little more than rehashed plotting, lame one-liners and surprisingly sexist characterizations in what can only be described as a very cheesy-looking production.
The plot centers around a huge bottle of wine, which was owned by Napoleon. Miller, as the Americanized daughter of a British wine auctioneer, is the first to discover the wine bottle in the cellar of an old Scottish castle.
Daly is a self-described "troubleshooter" who takes it upon himself to link up with Miller, follow her around from America to Scotland to France and promptly rescue her whenever any of the bad guys (there are three distinct groups of bad guys in this movie) attack her and try to steal the wine.
Chief among the villains is Louis Jourdan, who has certainly seen better days. Here he is reduced to a suave French stereotype, offering threats and jokes in his most seductive manner.
And, as it turns out, he's not even after the wine! He's after a "secret formula" hidden behind the wine bottle's label.
There are helicopter and airplane chases, motorcycle and car chases and even a scene where Miller and Daly must rescue the bottle from the bottom of a Scottish lake.
But there is no style and little wit.
Miller ("Awakenings," "Kindergarten Cop") and Daly (TV's "Wings") are appealing, but with this script Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman would have trouble.
"Year of the Comet" is rated PG-13 for considerable mayhem, along with a sex scene, some blurry nudity (a hallucination by Jourdan after he takes a drug), profanity and vulgarity.
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