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MOVIE REVIEW : 'A Tiger's Tale' May Entertain Through Many of Its Failures

February 12, 1988|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

Sometimes a bad movie reaches such a pitch of unabashed silliness that it's almost perversely entertaining. "A Tiger's Tale" (selected theaters) has a few moments like that. Take its piece de resistance, the drive-in double assignation.

Nineteen-year-old Bubber (C. Thomas Howell) lopes up a rural Texas hillside with lover Rose (Ann-Margret). Trailing behind is Bubber's pet tiger, Valentino. On a nearby drive-in screen, stalwart white hunters hack through the jungle. Down below, is Rose's daughter--and Bubber's ex-girl--Shirley, necking with Bubber's best buddy, Randy.

Impulsively Bubber and Rose strip, while the bemused tiger checks out the jungle movie. In quick succession, Shirley sees her mama, shrieks and fire ants attack the lovers above. The two race--screaming, nude, silhouetted and coated with insects--across a dam behind the tiger.

You can wait around and hope but you probably won't see a sillier scene all year. Writer-director-producer Peter Douglas--though obviously trying for a tender, rustic, Larry McMurtry-ish tone--has achieved the truly preposterous.

The film is set in a mythical rural Texas--where raw-boned hunks and lusty ladies spoon under a Dolly Parton moon, and where Bubber falls in love with the somewhat more mature Rose Butts. This drives the Butts daughter, Shirley, to such insane jealousy that she runs off with her divorced dad and his spandexed sweetie, La Vonne, after poking a hole in Rose's birth control device.

As if this turmoil weren't enough, Bubber must confront the crisis of his pet tiger, Valentino, getting restless out there in the cage. Should Bubber hold onto the tiger and let him roam free at nearby Safari-Land? Should he manfully face the consequences of Rose's busted diaphragm? Should he and Charlie pull the pythons out of the parlor when guests come calling? Of such moral dilemmas is "A Tiger's Tale" composed. (It's MPAA-rated R for sex, nudity and language.)

Ann-Margret and Charles Durning, who are always good, are good once again, while everyone else tends to flail around as if stuck in the touring company of "Egad! You Cad!"

Writer Douglas might justifiably complain to producer Douglas that director Douglas breathed no life into his scenes, though director Douglas might justifiably counter that whatever life once there was lachrymose to begin with. Each Douglas might, in the future, be somewhat leerier of his two associates.

'A TIGER'S TALE' An Atlantic Releasing Corp. release of a Vincent Pictures presentation. Producer, director, script Peter Douglas. Camera Tony Pierce-Roberts. Music Lee Holdridge. Production design Shay Austin. With Ann-Margret, C. Thomas Howell, Charles Durning, Kelly Preston, William Zabka, Ann Wedgworth.

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