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'Carpool' Takes a Spin Along a Bumpy Road


For Arthur Hiller, being president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences means never having to say you're sorry. Or having anyone to personally thank on Oscar night.

One could at least come to those conclusions in a week when (a) Hiller is reelected to a fourth term as academy president, and (b) Warner Bros. quietly releases Hiller's latest film, "Carpool," without advance critics screenings, without more than a whisper of promotion, without warning or apology to the lost souls who might wander in to see it.

And how could they resist a buddy comedy with those riots Tom Arnold and David Paymer?

We kid you, Arthur. We know you're busy with the academy stuff, and we know you did the best you could do with the material. We think we even saw you doing double duty in that mall scene where Arnold, an accidental armed robber, and Paymer, his accidental hostage, were screeching around in a van filled with kids. You were the guy in the wheelchair who barely missed being run over?

Actually, screenwriter Don Rhymer is more to blame here. What is this, an idea? A harried ad exec (Paymer) and a financially desperate carnival operator (Arnold) find themselves in the middle of a deli robbery and, through a combination of temptation and mistaken identity, end up on the run, with five kids, from the police and a pair of thieves paroled from "Home Alone."

"Carpool" is Warner Bros.' idea of a Disney movie. Kids, crazed dads and dumb cops, all having harmless fun in a blur of screaming car chases, carnival rides and the almost total destruction of a Seattle mall. Along the way, the whole crowd will bond like melted Gummi Bears.

Is summer over yet?

* MPAA rating: PG, for crude humor, mild language and comic action. Times guidelines: Car chases may frighten young ones.


Tom Arnold: Franklin Laszlo

David Paymer: Daniel Miller

Rhea Perlman: Martha

Rod Steiger: Mr. Hammerman

Kim Coates: Detective Erdman

An Arnon Milchan production, released by Warner Bros. Director Arthur Hiller. Executive producer Fitch Cady. Producers Milchan, Michael Nathanson. Screenplay by Don Rhymer. Cinematographer David M. Walsh. Editor William Reynolds and L. James Langlois. Costumes Trish Keating. Music John Debney. Production design James D. Vance. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.

* In general release throughout Southern California.

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