One of the main reasons I could never take the concept of Patrick Dempsey as “McDreamy” seriously is that I remember all too well when he was a young actor in terrible movies, many of which oddly featured him seducing older women. I don’t remember a bit of Run, beyond lumping it into the big, vague category of Indistinct Junk We Used To Need To See In Order To Fill Out A Weekly Radio Show. Here’s yet another in the brief procession of reviews that needed to employ the nonsense word “thrill-omedy.” I notice I did a terrible job keeping my antecedents and pronouns clear in this review. 

The latest subdivision of Disney Studios is apparently well on its way to becoming the home of the “thrill-omedy.” the new subdivision is called Hollywood Pictures and last summer it made its debut with the dismal film ARACHNOPHOBIA, billing it as a combination of thriller and comedy. HOLLYWOOD PICTURES has finally released its second feature: another piece of moviemaking in the thrill-omedy vein called RUN.

RUN presents Patrick Dempsey as a college student who finds himself in a small town somewhere between Boston and Atlantic City. The early exposition scenes have told us that Dempsey is a good runner and that he likes to gamble. That’s about all you need to know to understand this movie. He needs to kill some time in this small town, so he gets involved in a poker game in a casino hidden in the back of a restaurant. He finds himself in the middle of an incredible winning streak that infuriates another person at the table. This man gets so furious that he attacked Dempsey. As he is running towards him he trips and hits his head solidly on a countertop. This blow to the head kills him. This causes some difficulty for Dempsey since the man is the son of an organized crime figure named Halloran who runs the small town. The man wants revenge and puts his own goons and the entire local police force in motion to get him. Dempsey has nowhere to turn in this small town, so he has to RUN.

The remainder of the film mixes your average chase scenes with several jokes. The film also throws in a half-hearted romance with a townsperson played by Kelly Preston for good measure. Dempsey knows that he’s not guilty of killing Halloran’s son, so all he’s looking for is some justice. He tries as hard as he can to get out of town honestly, but he’s quickly stooping to attacking people, using a gun to threaten people, and of course stealing cars so he can drive them real fast.

The film continually pushes the believability meter too far. It becomes increasingly difficulty to believe that this scrawny college kid could evade large groups of policemen and mobster tough guys with machine guns for so long. Dempsey has occasionally been quite good on film, lending an offbeat charm to his characters in the movies IN THE MOOD and STAYING TOGETHER. But here he’s not even given a chance with a completely one-dimensional character which chiefly presents the acting challenge of ducking and running. Much of the action is predictable and extremely boring, and all of the jokes that are presented fall flat, many of them coming at the most inappropriate times imaginable. And the final fate of Halloran is so easy to see coming that they might as well have put it on the movie poster. Just like Hollywood Pictures’ first attempt at a thrill-omedy, RUN can claim to be nothing more than a slightly interesting but ultimately misguided failure.

1 and 1/2 stars, out of 4.

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