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Movie Review : 'He's My Girl'--a Frantic Orgy Of Caterwauling

September 15, 1987

The single most remarkable thing about "He's My Girl" (citywide)-- a frantic mixture of video rock satire, and buddy-buddy sex comedy that comes out like "La Cage aux Folles" and "Some Like It Hot" squeezed through an MTV tube--is that you can watch the entire movie and not be aware that one of the lead actors is French. Gallic rock star David Hallyday, playing aspiring Missouri musician Bryan, hoodwinks us completely into imagining him a Yank. We might guess that the he was exported from New Jersey--but Paris? Never.

Hallyday's final number is one of the movie's highlights, but the rest of the time, he tends to fade back a little--simply because his performance is so low key and nearly everyone else in the movie has descended into an orgy of mugging, flailing and caterwauling. Director Gabrielle Beaumont has a nice, easy camera-style--but her ideas about comic ensemble playing might have been inspired by old kinescopes of "Make Me Laugh" or Borscht Belt burlesque routines. Everybody yowls; everybody leers; everybody grins toothily from ear to ear. Even that fine actor, David Clennon, goes miles over the top as a lecherous video huckster.

T. K. Carter plays Bryan's heterosexual black manager, Reggie, forced to masquerade as Bryan's girlfriend to get them both a trip from the Midwest to Los Angeles. But Carter's attempted star turn becomes one more entry in a muggers' convention. Carter's drag act reminds you of Milton Berle's: with little Berle-like simpers and kissy-poo gestures transplanted onto a James Brown version of Flip Wilson's Geraldine. As such, it's impressive, but nothing that leaves you wanting more.

In fact, the entire movie--which sounds as if it were written by a dead-locked committee--leaves you screaming for less: less screeching, fewer flashy colors, fewer drunken L. A. orgies, fewer mindless jokes. In the entire cast, only Jennifer Tilly's work--as Bryan's sudden inamorata, sculptress-waitress-biker Lisa--has the makings of a controlled comic performance, and she doesn't have the lines to support it. "He's My Girl" (MPAA-rated PG-13) is an interesting and risky idea gone worse in the telling. Even though it shows some talent and energy, is well shot, crisply edited and gets a few laughs, they're the kind of chuckles that scrape on your mind and throat coming out.

'HE'S MY GIRL'

A Scotti Brothers Entertainment release. Producers Lawrence Taylor Mortorff, Angela Schapiro. Director Gabrielle Beaumont. Script Taylor Ames, Charles F. Bohl. Camera Peter Lyons Collister. Editor Roy Watts. With T. K. Carter, David Hallyday, Misha McK, Jennifer Tilly, Warwick Sims, David Clennon.

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.

MPAA rating: PG-13 (parents are strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13).

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