Eat My Strudel

In the right mood, though, Shining Through can be enjoyed for its sheer ridiculousness. The funniest bit of outrageous storytelling and acting comes when Linda forges a last-ditch campaign to ask Ed for the spy job in Berlin. Holding a tray of homemade pastry at his door as if her maiden virtue were on display, Griffith points to it and whines obstreperously, "Here. Eat my strudel! Go ahead! Taste my strudel!" (Naturally, she gets the job.)

Sold on Melanie's strudel for more than half the film, poor Michael Douglas does his best apace with her. But Douglas appears to be content staying outside the main course of the plot, appearing as wizened and diminutive as Joel Grey. And what, finally, is to be done with 88-year-old John Gielgud? His teeth probably can't take strudel any more, yet his diction and carriage remain unimpaired, as exemplary and fine as the rubbish he's given to speak in this film is execrable and absolutely beneath him.

Which brings me to the most important question: With so little to recommend them, how do movies this inflated still get made? Mucho bucks obviously went into this production, which was shot on location in England, Germany, and Austria. The picture credits nowadays read like names in the Manhattan telephone directory, and I shouldn't be surprised if "Chief Sandwich Maker to the Director" and "Assistant to the Chief Sandwich Maker of the Director" appear very soon. However, one unsung hero who deserves a mention amidst this phantasmagorical array of expendables is Medusah, listed here as "Hairdresser for Ms. Griffith." With 214 different hairdos (I lost count thereafter) over the span of a 132-minute film, Melanie Griffith's strands almost match Faye Dunaway's Mommie Dearest in color-conscious unsightliness, making Melanie the most copiously coiffed Mata Hari ever witnessed - outside the transvestite underworld,

that is.

Written and directed by David Seltzer; with Michael Douglas, Melanie Griffith, Liam Neeson, Joely Richardson, and John Gielgud.

Rated R.
Opens Friday.

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