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Film review: Another Stakeout

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An odd-couple/buddy-cop team that seemed like a doomed proposition, Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez nonetheless showed some remarkable chemistry together in the 1987 comedy-thriller "Stakeout." That film was also bolstered by a romantic plot involving Dreyfuss with the alluring, then-unknown Madeleine Stowe ("Last of the Mohicans").

However, that was six years ago, and while "Another Stakeout" must have looked good on paper, the film seems like a hurried proposition that could have used another screenplay draft. If that was asking too much, some judicious editing of the final product might have helped.

As it is, this sequel alternates between inspired and insipid set pieces.

After an initial explosive prelude, "Another Stakeout" has a Seattle waterfront/fish market chase not unlike the one that introduced the main characters to us in the original film. And once again, fish-smelling Dreyfuss must walk into the police station only to be told he's wanted by the captain — now! (The new chief is Dan Lauria, one of the other stakeout cops in the first film.)

Yes, the FBI needs help with another stakeout, this one requiring some undercover work. So, Dreyfuss and Estevez are told to masquerade as father and son, with an assistant district attorney (Rosie O'Donnell) along to play Mom.

On the surface, this sounds like it has possibilities — and Dreyfuss and Estevez have a field day with as much as they are allowed to do with the premise. Unfortunately, while some of the extended comic sequences work, many more seem like half-baked "Saturday Night Live" skits.

The plot has them on the lookout for escaped federal witness Cathy Moriarty, who is being pursued by hitman Miguel Ferrer. So, Dreyfuss, Estevez and O'Donnell move into a judge's summer house on a posh resort beach, right next door to Moriarty's best friends (Dennis Farina, Marcia Strassman).

As with the first film (not to mention the "Lethal Weapon" movies), the violent action and goofy comedy do not easily mix. (It's hard to laugh right after people have been killed or seriously injured.) And there are far too many jokes involving O'Donnell's unruly dog, which tends to run away a lot.

Perhaps the film's worst miscalculation, however, is having Madeleine Stowe's character return from time to time for an extended but unbilled cameo. Her domestic squabbles with Dreyfuss seem tacked-on and do not fit with the rest of the movie, largely because she isn't given anything to do. As much as I like Stowe, the film would flow better without her scenes.

With all these complaints, however, it's still fun to watch Dreyfuss and Estevez doing their shtick together. And O'Donnell, though her character is not very well defined, does have a few humorous moments.

"Another Stakeout" is rated PG-13 for violence (which seems truncated, edited down to purposely avoid the R rating of the original film), profanity and vulgar dialogue.