The Mod Squad

Bomb Rating: 

Lincoln Hayes (Omar Epps) is on his way to jail for arson, Pete Cochrane (Giovanni Ribisi) for robbery, and Julie Barnes (Clare Danes) for assault. Capt. Adam Greer (Dennis Farina) offers them the chance to be undercover cops and they take it, thus creating this Mod Squad.

These three actors couldn't appear less criminal if they put on purple dinosaur heads and started singing songs. Claire Danes assaulting somebody? I guess her flashing that vacant expression that passes for acting could be called assault. Omar Epps an arsonist? The film claims he has some sort of "agenda," but he seems about as interested in fire as Richard Pryor. And Giovanni Ribisi barely seems capable of tying his own shoes, much less robbing anything more animate that a clump of lichen. But then again, when has logic ever stopped Hollywood from making a movie in order to promote a soundtrack?

Since creating any sort of story was evidently too complicated for the makers of this film, they simply kowtow to the demands of current anti-authoritarian vogue by creating a police department so corrupt it's a miracle the doughnut shops aren't run by the mob. To add insult to injury, these corrupt cops conveniently hold well-enunciated meetings in their backyards so that kids like Peter can hide in the bushes with tape recorders.

The "skill" of the Mod Squad is actually the stupidity of the people around them. Julie falls for Billy (Josh Brolin), then follows him unnoticed into a house full of people, hides in his closet and hears him confess his guilt. Linc ingratiates himself to a hood (Michael Lerner) by walking into his house and announcing that "Billy sent me," which of course should be good enough for any hood. The difficulty here is not imagining the Mod Squad emerging victorious, but even conceiving that they might not best the one-celled life forms they've been pitted against.

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