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Gun Shy


Gun Shy

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An appropriately distraught-looking Liam Neeson stars in Gun Shy as a third-generation copy of the character Bill Pullman played in Jake Kasdan's vastly superior Zero Effect: a brilliant undercover agent who's an emotional mess whenever he's off-duty. Pullman's performance in Kasdan's debut was a controlled, surprisingly nuanced depiction of a disturbed neurotic who's in control only when he's assuming the identity of someone else. Neeson's character in Gun Shy, however, is more or less defined by the fact that he breaks into explosive fits of flatulence whenever nervous, and at one point receives an onscreen enema from perky "enema queen," obligatory love interest, and first-time producer Sandra Bullock. That crucial difference should tell you everything you need to know about Gun Shy, an avalanche of rancid gags masquerading as a dark comedy. An ugly and indifferently acted mess, the film sends Neeson out on one last assignment involving a psychotic mobster (a pasty-looking Oliver Platt, wasted once again), Colombian drug dealers, and a money-laundering operation masterminded by a shady Wall Street type. Written by first-time director Eric Blakeney as an endless stream of lukewarm sitcom zingers so warmed-over that you expect canned laughter to be piped in at any moment, Gun Shy mistakes stupid for funny and quirky for clever. Blakeney's contributions as a director, meanwhile, seem limited to instructing his cast to behave like a bunch of mechanical gag-reciting machines. There are many reasons to bemoan the fact that fewer and fewer films receive theatrical release, but the silver lining in distribution becoming so prohibitively expensive is that more and more insufferable misfires like Gun Shy will receive the direct-to-video burial they deserve.