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Undercover Blues Review

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A pair of secret agents retire to New Orleans on maternity leave when they are requested to bring in an old agent-gone-bad in this action-comedy inspired by the action capers on 60's TV such as The Avengers and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

★★★★★

The teaming of Kathleen Turner with the cockily charming Dennis Quaid is theoretically an attractive proposition, but confidence wanes the instant this caper's horribly cutesy animated title credits start to roll. The foreboding is throughly warranted, for this is a throw­back to 60s spy spoofs in which James Coburn or Dean Martin gallivanted around sipping cocktails, getting laid and foiling ludicrous conspiracies.

As it's now the 90s, however, our secret agent double act, Jeff and Jane Blue may be into drinking and screwing, but they are on maternity leave in New Orleans to bond with their newborn baby as well as romp round the bedroom and swap smart-alec banter in picturesque Big Easy locales. Suddenly they are re­drafted in to snare an old adversary, ex-Commie agent Novacek (Shaw) who's entered into the capitalist free-market spirit by selling weapons to terrorists.

This desperately wants to be a witty sophisticated update of The Thin Man crossed with The Avengers, but it is almost unremittingly sophomoric, and while Herbert Ross directs with some panache, his grip has loosened since his heyday with Neil Simon (California Suite, The Goodbye Girl). Turner and Quaid have little chemistry together and, worse, both are guilty of smug overplaying. They should have taken a tip from Stanley Tucci, in a running gag as a bungling but persistent mugger, whose pratfalls and high-pitched screams are executed as if in earnest. Ergo, he — and he alone — is the only faintly amusing element in this entire insufferably overconfident farce.

Trying so hard to recreate the stylish spy comedies of the 60's, Turner and Quaid pose unconvincingly as the couple in New Orleans when their maternity leave is cut short. Sadly they the required chemistry and their banter falls decidedly flat. The only redeeming feature is the support of Stanley Tucci.

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