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Hugo Pool Movie Review

downey floyd dempsey milano

Hugo Pool is a mess. There are moments during the 92-minute flick, especially when Thelonious Monk is on the soundtrack, that you wish it were in black and white so you wouldn't have to see in crystal clear Foto-Kem color what a fool so many professional actors are making of themselves. Take Malcolm McDowell as Henry Dugay, complete with lookalike hand puppet, trying to kick his heroin habit. On top of this, he seems to be doing a take-off on Jimmy Durante, for god knows what reason. Maybe he just thought it would be neat. On this planet, he would not be married to Cathy Moriarty as a gambling junkie named Minerva, but in this movie, he is, even though they are so NOT each other's types. Their daughter, Hugo Dugay, is played by the always delightful Alyssa (Charmed) Milano, who enlists their help to clean 44 L.A. pools in a single day. One client is Robert Downey Jr. as Franz Mazur, whose performance is way out of control, ditto his so-called Hungarian accent. Richard Lewis does another client, Chick Chicalini, either as Al Pacino in Scarface or as Will Jordan doing Ed Sullivan (I couldn't tell), but at least he's consistent. And then there's Patrick Dempsey as Floyd Gaylen, a man dying of ALS who's also dying to go outside. He joins Hugo and Minerva on their rounds and an unexpected and very touching romance evolves between Floyd and Hugo. In a film crawling with at least three confirmed overactors, Dempsey steals the picture with his eyes and his smile. It helps that his lines (co-scripted by Laura Downey, who died of ALS in 1994) are among the best in the film. Speaking through a voice box as Stephen Hawking does, Floyd makes the most of his day in the sun with a pretty girl. A movie with a performance as fine as Dempsey's Floyd (beautifully balanced by Milano's Hugo) deserves a look on video, even if you do yield to the temptation (I didn't, but I THOUGHT about it) to fast forward through the moments featuring his less-disciplined co-stars.

1997 (R) 92m/C Alyssa Milano, Patrick Dempsey, Robert Downey Jr., Malcolm McDowell, Cathy Moriarty, Sean Penn, Richard Lewis, Bert Remsen, Chuck Barris, Ann Magnuson; D: Robert Downey; W: Laura Downey; C: Joe Montgomery; M: Danilo Perez. VHS, LV

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