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KIDS ON FILM

Bumbling Mugger Helps Make 'Undercover Blues' a Killer

September 30, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section

In "Undercover Blues," an amorous, wisecracking husband-and-wife spy team, Jeff and Jane Blue, outwit a dangerous band of foreign criminals and a persistent, bumbling mugger even though they have their toddler in tow. (Rated PG-13) *

Karate kicks are about the only thing that raise this romantic-comedy-action movie above standard sitcom fare, and most of the kids who enthused over it admitted they had little else to occupy them on a Sunday afternoon.

"It's a really good movie to see if you're bored," said Devon Augustine, 14.

But still, they rated it high--four or five stars out of a possible five--mostly because of the antics of the mugger Muerte and the novelty of the husband-wife spy team.

Mark Gibson, 10, who said his folks encourage him to see at least two movies a week, was unfamiliar with Nick and Nora Charles and their dog in the vintage Thin Man series. To him, the whole idea of a pleasantly goofy couple with a small dependent managing to solve crimes while cooing at each other was brand-new and intriguing. "They were so patient!" he said.

Indeed, here is a father who uses one arm to hold his baby and the other to beat up a mugger with a baby stroller; who tries to educate his baby with, "Can you say . . . 'plastic explosives'?"; who admonishes the street-talking bad guys to "Watch your language!"

Mark's favorite heroes are the R-rated action kings Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, but he has noticed that female characters, such as doting mother Jane Blue, are beginning to throw a debilitating punch or two. He likes it.

"The girls are getting more tough," he said. "It makes it more interesting."

The movie also includes some pretty interesting mud-wrestling between Jane and the female head of the spy ring.

Mark's friend Andrew Love, 11, liked the more slapstick action, such as the smashing of bedroom furniture when Jane asks Jeff to "kill the lights."

The kids, of course, liked the movie's adolescent humor. A few thought the movie was even funnier, though less violent, than "Home Alone." But it wasn't, as the ads promised, laugh-aloud funny.

Said McKenzie Lee, 11, "I laughed in my mind."

Most said they laughed hardest (even if mentally) at the tattooed psycho mugger who wanted desperately to be known as "Muerte" (Spanish for death) but instead was called "Morty" by the Blues.

McKenzie's brother, Travis, 9, said his favorite part was when Muerte "tried to get the gun and he shot himself in the foot."

McKenzie's friend, Nicole Cavalier, laughed at the scene where Jeff chases Muerte into an alligator pit at the zoo.

"He made the guy give all his stuff up and then he said, 'I'll see you later.' He was half naked. All these nuns were walking around, and all the girls were laughing."

OK. Maybe it's a chuckle for an afternoon diversion. Something for the video later. But who would actually pay to see it twice?

Greg Lawrence, 13, and his brother, Matt, 9, that's who.

"We really liked it," Greg explained. "It was stupid," he admitted.

But he shrugged and said: "I guess I thought it was funny. And it was a time-killer."

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