It's pretty bad when the two-minute preview you've seen weeks before the actual film pegs it as a rip-off Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo." But that's what a friend and I felt when we first saw the "trailer" for "Final Analysis."
And son-of-a-gun if that's not precisely the case in much of the film's scenario, and especially in its denouement.
Richard Gere stars as a high-rolling, idealistic San Francisco forensic psychiatrist who maintains his own practice and takes on cases for free when it's in the interest of the public good.
One of his patients is nervous, insecure Uma Thurman, who has a too-obvious dream about flowers, which, for some reason, Gere never recognizes, even though it's later revealed as Freud 101.
Thurman encourages Gere to meet with her sister, the even more nervous Kim Basinger, because Basinger is supposed to have information that might be of help with Thurman's therapy.
And, before you can say "Prince of Tides," Gere goes for it, falling in love (and in bed) with Basinger. Imagine his chagrin when he discovers she's married to nasty gangster Eric Roberts.
Along the way it's also revealed that Basinger suffers from psychotic intoxication syndrome which is the same disease Basinger had in "Blind Date," the Bruce Willis comedy. In essence, when she ingests even the tiniest bit of alcohol, she becomes loopy to comic effect in "Blind Date" and to lethal effect in "Final Analysis."
One night, Basinger drinks some Nyquil and bashes Roberts in the head with a dumbbell. Soon she's on trial for murder.
But, given her history, Gere is confident she'll get off with an insanity plea, so he begins to choreograph her defense.
It isn't long, however, before Gere begins to wonder if he isn't being played for a chump? Did Basinger plan the whole thing far in advance, or did she really do it in an alcoholic stupor, and, more importantly, in self-defense?
That's also what a lurking detective (Keith David) wants to know as well as Gere's best friend (Paul Guilfoyle).
David and especially Guilfoyle create memorable supporting characters here, and Thurman is appropriately sullen. Gere is nicely low key if perhaps a bit too low key at times. But Basinger is all over the map, as if she's trying to make us forget Sean Young in "Love Crimes."
But even Basinger's not that bad.
The film's worst elements come from the filmmakers. To say they've seen too many Hitchcock films is to understate.
That's screenwriter Wesley Strick ("True Believer," "Cape Fear" and co-writer of "Arachnophobia" and the upcoming "Batman Returns") and young director Phil Joanou ("Three O'Clock High," "State of Grace," the U2 concert-documentary "Rattle & Hum").
They offer no twists that are not telegraphed ahead of time, the redundant dialogue and many dramatic pauses only serve to make the film sluggish, and there are times when the courtroom theatrics seem like a rejected "L.A. Law" script. Even this season.
Even George Fenton's music seems to echo Bernard Herrmann, who scored many of Hitchcock's best films.
Worse, Joanou seems to think closeups are fair substitutes for style, giving the film a made-for-TV look, except for its R-rated excesses, of course. (And we won't even discuss the boom mike that keeps dipping into scenes.)
Still, there are moments when Joanou is able to crank up some nice suspense, as during the film's final moments. It's just too little too late.
"Final Analysis" is rated R for violence, sex, nudity and profanity.