Posted: 12/30/1999


The General’s Daughter


by Del Harvey

Slick, slippery bit of suspense — maybe a little too slick for it’s own good.

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This slick bit of funnery is almost too good to be true. An undercover CID officer (Travolta) working a sting on some gun dealers within the military happens to bump into the attractive daughter of a retiring general, who’s next role will be as Vice President, if all goes as planned.

Whoa, hold it, hold up, whoa—whoa horsey!

Okay, Travolta is hot snot in this one, there’s no doubt, and the director is playing his ego like a sex toy on steroids. Travolta’s face goes through so many contortions throughout the run of this film that I was worried for the boy. Hard to tell which way he was going—kind of questionable as far as taste and direction were heading.

And Madeline Stowe plays the character of a rape counselor to perfection. She’s attractive, intelligent, and she’s heard every dirty line a sailor can think up, in as many different dialects. She recognizes the ally in Travolta, even with their own unique past history, and she is not afraid to go down these dark streets her duties to perform.

But beyond our two uncomfortable heroes, the rest of the cast pales by comparison. There are admirable performances here, and brightest among these is James Woods (The Onion Field, Riding In Cars With Boys) as the leader of the “psychological mindfuck forces,” but who cannot help the hapless General’s daughter, by virtue of her own lost childhood. Woods plays an intellectual, a professional ‘mindfucker,’ who gets caught up in the game of wits with Travolta before either one can stop the irreparable damage. Woods’ time on the screen is far too short. Once he is gone we are left with some decent characters trying hard to keep our interest, but there is so much story being filmed that a little cutting would have gone a very long way.

The supporting cast includes James Cromwell (Babe, L.A.Confidential) as the aspiring general, Leslie Stefanson as his long-suffering daughter, and Clarence Williams III (Linc from TV’s Mod Squad) as his loyal adjutant, and Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People, The Dark Half) is Colonel Kent, head of base security.

As I started by saying, this is a slick bit of funnery, but not much more than that. A steadier hand in the cutting room would have offered up a much better film. As it is, they should have added another half-hour to it and let the masses suffer through this onslaught.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly and lives in Chicago. He is a survivor of Lucasfilm, the Walt Disney Company, and the Directors Guild of America.

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