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Movie Spotlight

October 04, 1998|Kevin Thomas

Rob Roy (KNBC Sunday at 8 p.m.) is one of those familiar names that everyone's heard but no one can quite place. It's the nickname (roy means red in Gaelic) of an 18th-Century Scottish Robin Hood named Robert MacGregor whose story was embroidered by novelist Sir Walter Scott. This kilt-wearing leader of his fierce clan, Rob (Liam Neeson) is never flustered and in fact rarely so much as blinks. Madly in love with his fiery wife, Mary (Jessica Lange), Rob has an unbending sense of honor that leads him into the messy conflicts with authority that are the film's plot pivots. But although Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones takes pains to show what an active sex life Rob and Mary have (must be those darn kilts), their bucolic interludes are blandly unconvincing.

Directed unevenly by Stephen Frears and written by "Unforgiven" screenwriter David Webb Peoples, Hero (KABC Monday at 9 p.m.) asks whether heroism is truly selfless or rather an act of stupidity. Dustin Hoffman stars as a curmudgeonly, anti-social weasel who nevertheless winds up bringing about the rescue of 54 people in a plane crash only to vanish immediately afterward. Among the rescued is your usual hard-charging TV reporter (Geena Davis), who knows that the disappearing "hero" could be the story of a lifetime. But then a handsome guy (Andy Garcia) shows up to claim the laurel wreath... .

Woody Harrelson is the only reason to subject yourself to The Cowboy Way (KNBC Tuesday at 9 p.m.), but his breezy, amusing performance simply underlines everything the rest of the 1994 film is not. "Cowboy" will be recognized by film buffs as a reworking of the Don Siegel-Clint Eastwood "Coogan's Bluff."

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.), the 1990 adaptation of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's chop-socky comic spoof, in which mutated, masked-hero turtles and their rat mentor wreak havoc on New York's villains, 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. But director Steve Barron's movie is written like a celebrity roast, filmed like a horror pastiche.

Al Franken is good enough, he's certainly smart enough. So, doggone it, why is Stuart Saves His Family (KNBC Saturday at 9 p.m.) so mediocre? The problem is that Franken is starting to take Stuart altogether too seriously. It's kind of creepy. He's made an inspirational goofball comedy.

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