Delayed Movie Is Worse Than Two-Man Disaster

----------------------------------------------------------------- Movie review

X "Gone Fishin'," with Joe Pesci, Danny Glover, Rosanna Arquette, Nick Brimble. Directed by Christopher Cain, from a script by Jill Mazursky Cody and Jeffrey Abrams. 95 minutes. Alderwood, Auburn Cinema 17, Aurora, Crossroads, East Valley 13, Everett Mall 1-3, Gateway, Issaquah 9, Kent 6, Kirkland Parkplace, Meridian 16, Metro, Mountlake 9, Puyallup 6, Southcenter. "PG" - Parental guidance advised because of mild profanity and violence. -----------------------------------------------------------------

Take away Mel Gibson from the "Lethal Weapon" formula that includes Danny Glover and Joe Pesci. Throw in some very labored slapstick, cameos by Willie Nelson, Louise Fletcher and Carol Kane, and add a plot that makes Disney's "Ernest" comedies seem complex.

Call it "Gone Fishin'," leave it on the shelf for a year, then release it with as little fanfare as possible. Prime proof that delayed movies rarely age well, this is one of the summer's sorrier excuses for a major-studio release.

Pesci and Glover play Joe and Gus, brain-damaged best friends and fishing buddies who are so accident-prone they shouldn't be allowed to leave the house. Nevertheless, they take off for a fishing trip in the Everglades, dragging their boat behind them. In no time at all, they manage to lose Joe's car, unintentionally tie the boat to a passing train and demolish a spanking new boat in less than an hour.

While making Florida's roads and boating lanes unsafe at any speed, they run into Derek Massey (Nick Brimble), a con artist and killer who has hidden stolen jewels somewhere in the swamp. They also hitch a ride with two persistent women (Rosanna Arquette, Lynn Whitfield) who are on Massey's trail. Joe and Gus imagine that they've been picked up because they're cute, but the fantasy doesn't last.

Soon they're off doing what they do best: accidentally blowing up gas stations, sleepwalking through a hotel fire, getting struck by lightning and battling alligators in hand-to-jaw combat.

"These guys are a two-man disaster," observes Massey, who lectures Gus and Joe at one point: "You've got children of your own. That is the really scary thought."

Why is it that the bad guy has a stronger sense of reality than anyone else in this movie? And why was Christopher Cain (who made "The Next Karate Kid" and "The Stone Boy") allowed to direct comedy? His light touch is every bit as leaden as his approach to drama; even the spectacular boat stunts are clumsily staged and filmed.

Still, the writers have given him next to nothing to work with. They're so desperate for laughs that they set up a restaurant scene in which our dysfunctional heroes show up in tattered, ill-fitting suits, order wine and misread their waiter's offer to test it.

"I'm not exactly a little kid," insists Joe after only a sip's worth is poured into his glass. "I can drink a full glass." Did anyone in front of or behind the cameras really find this hoary joke funny?