"If Looks Could Kill" is a very specific James Bond spoof, and while it's easy to dismiss this picture as being 20 years too late, there's enough genuinely funny material here to please its target audience.
That target audience is not James Bond fans, however. This funny script has been messed with - a bit too much - to fashion it into a star vehicle for teenybopper heartthrob Richard Grieco.How about that? A James Bond spoof aimed at kids who've probably never seen a James Bond movie - much less the old pictures being lampooned here.
For the uninitiated - anyone over the age of 15 - Grieco (along with Johnny Depp) was a star of the now-defunct TV series "21 Jump Street." And the scene in this movie where Grieco prances around in his underwear will be enough to drag your teenage daughters into the theater.
But, if they can put up with the music-video sidesteps from time to time, parents may also find enough in "If Looks Could Kill" to make for an enjoyable movie outing.
The plot has Grieco as a high school student named Michael Corbin who is about to graduate when he discovers he has flunked French. His parents arrange for him to join the French Club on a European tour during the summer to make up his grade and therefore graduate.
Little does he know, however, that there is a CIA operative using the name Michael Corbin who is about to board the same flight to Paris. When he is killed, the younger Corbin is mistaken for the CIA agent - by both bad guys and good guys.
The evil plan here is one of those typical James Bond take-over-the-world plots as the villains melt down Europe's gold supply, mint their own coins and plan to start a new world order, if you will.
Grieco is kidnapped by British Intelligence at the Paris airport, given the mission of protecting a finance minister (not knowing he's the real villain) and suited up with a car that's right out of "Goldfinger," a tuxedo right out of "Thunderball" and even chewing gum that acts as an explosive device.
There's a scene in a casino where Grieco and the villain play baccarat, a couple of car chases that allow him to use the latest in lethal automobile options and a "Jaws"-type killer who has literal "gold fingers."
The scene-stealer here is Linda Hunt as a killer reminiscent of Lotte Lenya in "From Russia With Love," in this case utilizing a gold necklace that becomes a deadly whip. She's hilarious and obviously having a great time.
As for Grieco, he's adequate in the role and once in awhile shows some comic flare - but for the most part he's satisfied to merely pose. (Obviously he's doing Roger Moore's James Bond rather than Sean Connery's James Bond.)
There are two major flaws here that could have been avoided and boosted the movie a notch. One I've already alluded to, the modern Hollywood notion that any movie aimed at young people has to have a bevy of music videos set to pulsating rock songs throughout the film. The other is that violence - even in comedies - has to be bloody and replete with a high body count. The latter might be excused as a device necessary to satirize James Bond movies, but somehow an excess of blood and dead bodies seems out of place in a comedy as light as this one.
"If Looks Could Kill" is rated PG-13 for considerable violence, along with some profanity, vulgarity and sex.