In Andrei Konchalovsky's "Homer and Eddie" (at the Cineplex Odeon, Century City), a brain-damaged man and an escaped mental patient pair up on a cross-country jaunt. I suppose a great movie could be made from this premise. Given the right combination of talents, a great movie could probably be made from any premise. Not this time, though. The story is booby-trapped, and the film makers leave no trap untripped.
Jim Belushi plays Homer, who was hit in the head with a baseball when he was a child. He lives alone in Arizona, where he works as a dishwasher, and hasn't seen his parents in 20 years. He sets out to visit them in Oregon. Eddie, played by Whoopi Goldberg, is on the run from a mental institution when she comes upon the hapless Homer. Together, they make their way in Eddie's junker across a symbolic American wasteland, stopping off periodically to accumulate life lessons.
The main lesson they learn is tolerance for each other's differences. Isn't it about time to refresh this misfits-on-the-road genre? (Things have gone way downhill since "La Strada," from which this film lifts liberally.) How about a movie featuring two people thrown together by circumstance who grow to hate each other? The subject matter of "Homer and Eddie," which has been in the can for over a year, is so close to satire that you regret the decision to play it straight. Particularly since Belushi and Goldberg are more adept at comedy than all this cornball squishiness.