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Prime-Time Flicks

May 04, 1997|Kevin Thomas

Forrest Gump (ABC Sunday at 8 p.m.) With Tom Hanks in the title role as a kind of holy fool who succeeds brilliantly in life while nominally wiser folk get all bollixed up, Forrest and his story offers a bemused chance to view the most turbulent decades of recent American history through a particularly harebrained lens. In many ways a sweet piece of work, this Robert Zemeckis-directed film stumbles whenever it attempts what Forrest never did: forcing its charm in search of obvious sentimentality and grander points about society.

Star Wars (KTLA Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.), which has just celebrated its 20th birthday, is the movie that changed the face of Hollywood. George Lucas' archetypal space opera, with orphaned pure-of-heart hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) rescuing the princess (Carrie Fisher) in the Death Star with the aid of scruffy space rover Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

The 1993 Mrs. Doubtfire (Fox Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is safe and sane entertainment. All the characters are nice and all the situations unadventurous. Robin Williams takes on a role born in high-concept heaven. He's a divorced dad and unemployed voice-over actor who disguises himself as a grandmotherly British housekeeper to spend more time with the children he loves.

For a movie that plans to scare us, Arachnophobia (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m.), Frank Marshall's funny-scary 1990 primal scream of a comedy, is a friendly and nicely witty affair; technically, it's a wonder. It is the classic form, done on a grander scale: the blob/Martian/spider from far, far away that very nearly wipes out the perfect American small town. Jeff Daniels and John Goodman star.

In Tim Burton's 1988 Beetlejuice (KCOP Saturday at 6 p.m.) Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis have the perfect, bucolic small-town life--until they die. Their sadness at being suddenly immaterial is compounded when (a) the hereafter turns out to involve an even more depressing bureaucracy than the here, and (b) a new family of squatters moves into their haunt. Their tentative partners in reluctant terror are Michael Keaton in the demonic title role, and Winona Ryder as a teen so suicidal she's the only human cognizant of these otherworldly denizens.

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