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Television Review

Plot Never Thickens for 'Spy's' Secret-Agent Mom

May 08, 2000|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Good spy films are tough enough to pull off when they're played straight. Pity the producer who attempts to create one with a soft touch.

More lightheaded than lighthearted, tonight's Lifetime adventure "My Mother the Spy" leaves us out in the cold on any level.

The tissue-thin tale centers on Alison (Jayne Brook), a bright book editor who discovers that her globe-trotting mother (Dyan Cannon) is a CIA agent, which explains her past countless disappearing acts.

In reality, Alison would come to grips with this unlikely revelation by going into therapy and talking about abandonment issues. But since this is merely an implausible TV movie, our headstrong heroine instead is up to her pretty neck in chases, gunfire and ostensibly witty repartee.

Unfortunately, there's nothing intriguing about the rest of the paltry plot, which finds Alison willing to rescue her mother, who's captured by baddies in the midst of an assignment at a remote resort.

When they aren't bickering, mother and daughter can take care of themselves, which is more than can be said for their clumsy captors.

Alison is a well-read wisecracker who can think on her feet. So why didn't such a smarty suspect something was up all those years mom was ducking out on the big events of her life?

A silly script from Barbara Davilman squanders the charm of the lithe Brook, most recently a "Chicago Hope" regular and "Sports Night" guest. And did we really need two crass references to Brook's toned bottom?

At one point, Cannon's underwritten agent tells Alison: "I can't believe this is happening. I can't watch!"

That says it all.

* "My Mother the Spy" airs tonight at 9 on Lifetime. It is rated TV-PG-LD (may be unsuitable for young children, with special advisories for coarse language and suggestive dialogue).

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