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For a comedian with plenty of talent, Chevy Chase has been making a lot of missteps in what should be the prime of his career: Fresh from his sadly unsuccessful late-night television show, he steps into this sorry movie, which is low on both originality and laughs. Chase plays a mild-mannered father whose well-ordered suburban life is shattered when a hard-boiled cop sets up a stakeout in his home to catch a sneaky criminal who's moved in next door. The filmmakers were apparently banking on the odd-couple chemistry between Chase's minimalist acting style and Jack Palance's over-the-top machismo as the policeman; but their combined energy makes little headway against the stubborn silliness of Bernie Somers's screenplay. Among the supporting players, only Dianne Wiest and Robert Davi manage to make something of their sparsely written roles. What a pity that director Michael Ritchie, once the auteur of such intelligent comedies as ``Smile'' and ``Semi-Tough,'' can't find better material than this and the recent ``Diggstown'' to sink his teeth into. (Rated PG)

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* THE SECRET RAPTURE - Written by the gifted British playwright David Hare, this family-centered drama focuses on the complex and sometimes dangerous relationship between the widow and daughter of a businessman who recently died. Uncertain how to reorder their lives, they try working together in the widow's commercial-art company, oscillating between nervous cooperation and outright hostility. The screenplay is thoroughly cinematic, showing few signs of its origin as a theatrical script. The connections between the characters are confusing at times, though, and director Howard Davies doesn't quite pull off the balance he seeks between a basic tone of understated sensitivity and occasional bursts of florid, even violent melodrama. (Rated R)

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