The Mod Squad

1999, Movie, R, 95 mins

Review

MOD SQUAD, THE
starstarstarstar
In keeping with the premise of the popular late '60s/early '70s TV show, three young misfits with criminal records are given a chance to redeem themselves by a hard-bitten LAPD detective (Dennis Farina). His combative, clearly corrupt colleagues don't think too highly of the rave gear-attired kids, their sullen faces emanating attitude, but he goes ahead and assigns former druggie Julie (Claire Danes), arsonist Linc (Omar Epps) and rich-boy-gone-bad Pete (Giovanni Ribisi) to infiltrate LA's seedy underground clubs and bust a prostitution ring. The kids aren't allowed to carry guns and have such bad credit that they can't even arm themselves with cell phones. Without such standard accoutrements at their disposal, the trio spend a lot of time standing around and posing. The movie's thin plot, involving drugs, cops on the take and hookers, veers from the absurdly predictable to the gleefully incomprehensible, and director Scott Silver's decision to play this foolishness generally straight leads to many unintentionally risible scenes resembling nothing so much as moody Prada ads. He does throw in some nifty chase scenes, as well as a few shoot outs that look as though they were lifted from bad Starsky and Hutch episodes. The singularly awful script drives Ribisi to buffoonery and strands Danes on an island of actorly earnestness. The beautiful cinematography by Ellen Kuras and the excellent soundtrack go entirely to waste. Will kids be suckered into watching this dreadful pastiche based on the retro chic marketing campaign? That remains to be seen: No one expects much from movie adaptations of TV shows but complete incoherence and boredom is a bit too much to bear. Throw this one into the scrap heap along with THE AVENGERS and CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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