Genre: Comedy; Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Don Ameche, Tim Curry, Yvonne DeCarlo, Eddie Bracken, Joey Travolta, Chazz Palminteri, Peter Riegert, Harry Shearer, Kurtwood Smith, Vincent Spano, Marisa Tomei; Director: John Landis; Runtime (in minutes): 109; MPAA Rating: PG; Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

Sylvester Stallone isn’t completely without a sense of humor (he showed a comic instinct in Rocky), but the last place he belongs is at the center of a classically structured farce — the sort of thing in which entire subplots are predicated on the switching of identical suitcases. (If I never see another movie about mixed-up suitcases, you won’t hear me protesting.) In Oscar, based on a French play of the ’60s, he plays ”Snaps” Provolone, a Prohibition racketeer who, in the midst of trying to go straight, learns that his wily young accountant (Vincent Spano) is planning to marry his flapper daughter (Marisa Tomei) — except that the woman the accountant thinks is the daughter isn’t really the daughter at all, even though the flapper does want to be married, but to a different guy…oh, never mind. Director John Landis executes the mechanics of farce without a trace of the speed or effervescence this material demands. Every chuckle feels engineered. Stallone is reduced to playing straight man to a gaggle of stock Damon Runyon hoods, though Tim Curry, looking like a stuffed cod, brings a prissy, nerdish glee to the role of a madly obsequious linguistics professor. D+

Originally posted May 3 1991 — 12:00 AM EDT

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