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Prime-Time Flicks

February 18, 1996|Kevin Thomas

For Steven Spielberg, the fears of childhood: facing the unknown, the dark and being pursued by monsters, are a mother lode of box-office glory. They are visible, with a vengeance, in the 1985 The Goonies (KCOP Sunday at 6 p.m.), produced and directed by Richard Donner but based on a story by executive producer Spielberg. This is 'Our Gang' cubed. Seven kids, mostly in their early teens embark on a reckless adventure to find the pirate treasure that will save their parents from threatened mass home foreclosures.

In the hands of director Danny DeVito and writer Michael Leeson, the 1989 The War of the Roses (KTLA Tuesday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 11:30 p.m.), the story of Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner) is biting and vicious, a styptic pencil on the battered face of "civilized divorce." It's also thoughtful, cuttingly funny and bravely true to its own black-and-blue comic vision.

Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston star in The Bodyguard (KABC Thursday at 8 p.m.), a muddled, often unintentionally hilarious 1992 thriller about--you guessed it--a bodyguard and his pop-star client. A lot of talent has gone into this jamboree but it doesn't add up to much.

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.) is unabashedly and glowingly open about its dopiness. Its central characters, a pair of good-natured and self-deluded San Dimas teenagers (Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter) constantly exhort each other to "party on," while wildly flailing away in the air at imaginary electric guitars. In almost every respect the 1991 "Bogus Journey" is better than the 1989 "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure": more imaginative, more opulent, wilder and freer, more excitingly realized. Even the idea, confronting these cockeyed California optimists with their worst nightmares, is charmingly overblown and excessive.

Written and directed by Richard Tuggle for Clint Eastwood, the 1984 Tightrope (KCOP Friday at 8 p.m.) explores the darker side of Eastwood's New Orleans homicide detective who is overcome with sexual fantasies of his own as he tracks down an elusive killer/rapist. It features one of Eastwood's most ambitious and daring portrayals.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (KABC Saturday at 8 p.m.) is yet another sequel adapted from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's comic spoof, in which mutated, masked-hero turtles wreak havoc on feudal Japan. It is a triumph of marketing, name recognition and product tie-ins. The late Jim Henson's Creature Shop has come up with some terrific puppets.

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