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There's something to offend everyone in Too Much Sun


Directed by Robert Downey.

Starring Howard Duff, Robert Downey Jr.,

Andrea Martin and Ralph Macchio.

Now playing at Loews Copley.



TOO MUCH SUN'S only redeeming quality is the fact that it has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Directed by Robert Downey, Too Much Sun has something to offend everyone -- which may be its masterstroke as well as its demise.

The film's plot centers around two homosexuals being forced to bear children through heterosexual involvement. At the film's onset, O. M. Rivers (played by Howard Duff) suffers a heart attack and dies when he walks in on his son and daughter while they are embracing their respective homosexual lovers. He leaves behind $250 million to be divided equally between his two children and his gardener. But there is one condition, imposed by a corrupt priest at the time of Rivers' death: In order for the children to inherit the money, they must bear their father an heir in the "Biblical" fashion. Otherwise, the money will go to Father Seamus Kelly (Jim Haynie) and his church.

Before going mad, the daughter, Bitsy (Andrea Martin), mutters something about having already borne a child some twenty-odd years ago -- a son named Frank Della Rocca (Ralph Macchio). It is at this point that the film begins to take on a "wild goose chase" type of atmosphere. With that intent, the film suddenly switches tracks and heads down a different path of well-worn comedy film formulas.

Throughout Too Much Sun, the director manages to exploit all the popular comedy techniques, from the neophyte slapstick of Robert Downey Jr. and Ralph Macchio trying to hide under a small bed together, to the surreal absurdity of a bicycle messenger pulling up next to a convertible Jaguar to deliver the requested blood test, to the purely repulsive -- when Downey Jr. masturbates under the covers while his "mother" sings him a bedtime lullaby.

Director Downey has a history of seldom-seen but highly-acclaimed avant-garde films. For Too Much Sun, Downey gathered a cast of talented and relatively well-known actors, including Eric Idle, an original member of Monty Python;

Andrea Martin, an improvisational comedienne who had her own cable television show; Ralph Macchio, best known as the Karate Kid; and the director's son, Robert Downey Jr., an ex-Saturday Night Live comedian, whose film credits include Weird Science, The Pick-Up Artist and Less Than Zero.

With scenes lumped together as they are, the film seems chaotic and a victim of a rambling plot. In attempt to offend the artistic highbrow, the film deliberately avoids displaying any artistic value, giving itself a low-budget, slapdash quality. As a result, it fails to fulfill the expectations of those seeking the so-called "artsy" as well as those looking for their $6 Hollywood comedy flick.

Much of the director's intent is lost in the film's confusion. Downey takes his utmost liberties with cynicism when he shows an angel dressed in military garb near a painted backdrop of heaven, with the angel shoving pins into a voodoo doll of Father Kelly.

Moviegoers' emotions while watching Too Much Sun may range from anger at the film's offenses, to humor at its funnier scenes, to pity at the film's failing moments and the actors' futile efforts. Certainly, it is an original film. Its convoluted approach at comedy may be precisely the refreshing new arrival needed for the January cavalcade of Hollywood sequels and originals. Although we did not care too much for Too Much Sun, we appreciated its rebellious flavor. If you are willing to stretch your tolerance and are able to reassess your requirements for comedy, Too Much Sun will entertain you for a full two hours.