html> MMI Review: Destiny Turns On The Radio

Destiny Turns On The Radio

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: Week Of 5/3/95)

By Monica Sullivan

Quentin Tarantino as Johnny Destiny. Right. And the Emperor was really wearing clothes. But Mr. T is an Oscar winner. He's this year's big thing. Why not be a movie star and an influential screenwriter and a hot director, too? Tarantino is promoted more in the television spots than the so-called stars, Dylan McDermott, Nancy Travis, James Le Gros and James Belushi, as if his Midas touch could rub off on first-time screenwriters Robert Ramsay and Matthew Stone and on fledgling director Jack Baran. It can't, of course.

The script is the stuff of formulaic hacks and Baran's idea of great direction is to tell McDermott he's in an action flick, then tell Travis she's in a romantic comedy, THEN tell Le Gros his character is brain dead and THEN tell Belushi and his henchmen that their characters require constant reassurances about their virility: they even scratch their crotches in synch. All of this was developed at the Sundance Institute, so some critics have been charitable about this maiden effort. But it's a mess.

Travis is a nightclub singer whose voice is dubbed by a singer who's ever so slightly off-key, so the Hoagy Carmichael classic "Baltimore Oriole" is ruined, ditto "That Old Black Magic." (Louis Prima and Keely Smith sing it right on the soundtrack..) A restrained Bobcat Goldthwaite plays an undercover cop who spends most of the movie tied to a vibrating bed with an apple taped in his mouth. A real knee slapper, no?

Tarantino has set the world on fire as a screenwriter & director, but he is not strong enough of a presence to dazzle anyone as Johnny Destiny. And for critics to be kind to "Destiny Turns On The Radio" sets Baran, Ramsay and Stone up for their second effort to be (surprise) received far worse than their dreadful debut, since it lacks the je ne sais quoi of "Destiny." It's a curiosity piece alright, but it's lucky that night prowling movie cats usually have eight or nine lives to spare.

Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan

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