GUN SHY -- ** -- Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt, Sandra Bullock, Jose Zuniga, Richard Schiff, Mary McCormack, Mitch Pileggi; rated R (violence, profanity, vulgarity); Carmike 12, Cottonwood Mall and Ritz 15 Theaters; Cinemark Jordan Landing Theaters; Loews Cineplex Midvalley Cinemas; Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons.
In "Gun Shy," a mildly amusing but forgettable and way-too-scatological black farce, Liam Neeson plays Charlie, an 18-year veteran undercover DEA agent who, after one particularly traumatic experience, loses his nerve and becomes a physical wreck.Specifically, his stomach is constantly gurgling with gases, he's lost all control of his bowels, and when not popping pills or whining to his shrink, he's usually in the act of racing for the nearest toilet. Very distasteful.
Charlie's chief nemesis is a sadistic Mafioso enforcer (Oliver Platt) whose life is almost as miserable: He's the son-in-law of an aging don (Frank Vincent) who hates his guts, his wife (Mary McCormack) constantly abuses him, and his tomatoes won't grow.
Also in the mix is a ditzy nurse (Sandra Bullock) whom Charlie meets one day over a barium enema, a pair of gay Colombian drug lords (Jose Zuniga and Michael Delorenzo) and a crooked Wall Street trader (Andy Lauer) trying to put together a money-laundering operation.
As Charlie joins in as part of a DEA sting, a few honest laughs emerge between all the flatulence and body functions, and Platt does his usual good work, consistently funny.
Neeson also has his moments. Few stars have his natural likability, and his self-deprecating comedy style here is occasionally engaging -- though the film is unlikely to do much for his somewhat faltering career (after "The Haunting" and poor reviews for "Phantom Menace").
"Gun Shy" is also likely to be a bad career move for producer/co-star Sandra Bullock, who seems bored and distracted, and for first-time feature writer-director Eric Blakeney, whose script is sloppy and whose direction is never quite able to make these elements fly as madcap comedy.
"Gun Shy" is rated R for violence (gunplay and slapstick violence), excessive profanity and crude flatulence humor. Running time: 105 minutes.