**/**** Image A Sound A-
starring Dave Sheridan, Randy Quaid, Enrico Colantoni, Dolly Parton
screenplay by Mark Perez
directed by Arlene Sanford
by Walter Chaw There's a freshness to the staleness of Frank McKlusky, C.I. that charms initially before it grates for its dedicated cuteness and innocuous incorrectness. With an amazing supporting cast of the lower echelon of B-list comedy performers (Dolly Parton, Randy Quaid, Orson Bean (reprising his Being John Malkovich character), Andy Richter, Kevin Pollack, Adam Corolla, and Chris Farley's also-fat brother), the picture is clearly a rip-off of Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura films, complete with a mugging Dave Sheridan (so good in Bubble Boy, now channelling Carrey), a pooch sidekick, and a blonde love interest in the emetic Cameron Diaz (of Carrey's The Mask) mold played, strangely enough, by Cameron Richardson.
With frequent references to guilty faves "Miami Vice" and "Charles in Charge" (and cameos by "me generation" glass-teat stalwarts Scott Baio, Emmanuel Lewis, Willy Tyler & Lester, and Lou Ferrigno), an unusually high "One Day at a Time" I.Q., and an assault by a ridiculously strong paraplegic that reminds a great deal of the bear attack from The Great Outdoors, Frank McKlusky, C.I. remains a fitfully entertaining slapstick farce for people of my generation who are still astonished the Eighties were twenty years ago.
As a child, Frank (Sheridan) witnesses his daredevil dad (Quaid) make himself a vegetable, Super Dave-style, rendering him an arrested helmet-wearing man-child trapped in the over-protective embrace of his paranoid mother (a typically ebullient Dolly Parton). Going to work as a claims investigator, Frank is put on the trail of another Scott "Bayou" (Enrico Colantoni), who may just be filing a fraudulent disability claim. How this explains Sheridan's mid-film B.A. Barracas disguise and Alf poster is one of those things that's frankly beyond me.
The proximate "whys" not nearly so compelling as the ultimate "whys," when Frank McKlusky, C.I. works, it works because of a nice pop-cultural savvy and the strength of its supporting cast (obviously having fun); when it fails, which is often, it fails because it's so busy being derivative and puerile that it becomes an endurance test. The problem with a film like this is that it doesn't understand that it has something to offer beyond the rote Carrey knock-off, intriguing with the energy at the corners of the screen and wasting Sheridan in a role where even his haircut is essentially Jim Carrey's. The picture is, from scene to scene, a re-enactment of nearly every Jim Carrey bit (even the steroid-mama fitness freak from "In Living Color")--a kind of fixation that flows neatly from homage to pathetic idolatry or, more likely, a cynical play for a demographic that has the wisdom to recognize that Carrey was better when he wasn't whoring for an Oscar.
Touchstone brings Frank McKlusky, C.I. to DVD in a 1.85:1 anamorphic video transfer that is bright and agile. Colours are vibrant and their separation crisp. It's a first-rate presentation matched by a Dolby 5.1 audio mix that, while lacking in much rear-channel pyrotechnics, does impress with its depth and range during an early and late explosion. Hearing Gary Owens call Webster a "little son of a bitch" through six speakers, though, is almost worth the price of admission. To paraphrase Bill Chambers's brilliant review of "Married with Children", it approaches the sublime when it approaches the surreal, and it surpasses the surreal when Sheridan finds himself "69'ing" a certain African-American puppet. Sneak Peeks of Big Trouble, Out Cold, and Corky Romano round out the sparse disc. Originally published: February 24. 2003.