Rated PG - Running time: 1:32 - Released 3/27/98

As I have said in the past, I have barely been able to contain my excitement in the recent avalanche of quality Disney fare. Not. In just a short period, they have given us such abysmal efforts as Mr. Magoo, Krippendorf's Tribe, and Flubber. By far the best Disney movie in the last six months was The Little Mermaid, a re-release of 8-year-old goods. And the multi-million-dollar company's latest offering continues the trend. Meet The Deedles, written by James Herzfeld and directed by Steve Boyum, is passable as comedy only if you're under 7 or your I.Q. is under 70.

A pair of rich Hawaiian twins, Stew and Phil Deedle (Steve Van Wormer and Paul Walker) have skipped school to surf once too often. Their detached father sends them away to a reality camp in Wyoming, but on the way they have a series of mishaps, finally ending up at Yellowstone National Park. The ranger in charge, Capt. Douglas Pine (John Ashton) and his step-daughter, Lt. Jesse Ryan (A.J. Langer), who is also a ranger, think the Deedles are Mel and Mo, a pair of naturalists who are supposed to be on the way to eliminate a problem the park's been having with an infestation of prairie dogs. But the real Mel and Mo (Ana Gasteyer and Megan Cavanaugh) are detained as a direct result of one of the Deedles' aforementioned mishaps.

The Deedles decide to use this little confusion to masquerade as Mel and Mo, because they like the uniforms and because Lt. Jesse is a really fabulous babe. So they sign on and begin working on the prairie dog problem while concurrently trying to schmooze Jesse, who is watched like a hawk by her overprotective stepfather. But the prairie dog problem is no accident of nature: it was engineered from the vast underground lair of Frank Slater (Dennis Hopper), a disgruntled former ranger who was let go and wants to ruin Pine's upcoming celebration of the one billionth eruption of Old Faithful.

Can the boys pull off this charade without anyone finding out who they really are, or will the real Mel and Mo show up and ruin all their plans? Can they foil Slater's plot and solve the prairie dog problem before the celebration? Can they get in Jesse's pants without her dad knowing? Do we care? All these questions can be answered, but the downside is you have to pay the admission price to find out.

I admit there were a few moments in this movie when a smile may have been detectable on my face. The boys' characterizations are the kind of valley-boy schtick one may remember from Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) or anything ever done by Pauly Shore. If you can stomach that for an hour and a half, and if you really don't have anything better to do, you might get a laugh or two from The Deedles. But don't say I sent you.

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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