Brenda Starr (1992)
As I've said before in my review of Sahara, and will no doubt say again many times before I die, Brooke Shields is easily the worst actress to ever grace the screen. But she continues to get work, so what do I know?
Anyway, onto the film.
Brenda Starr is a toxic little gem based on the famous comic strip...this in and of itself is a very bad sign. Also, it was filmed and shelved for years before finally being dumped into theatres with little fanfare....bad sign number 2. So we have a flick that even the studio knew stunk, starring a completely talentless actress, based on an antiquated comic book character no one cared about anymore, let alone remembered. Yes folks, this is about as bad a film recipe as you're likely to get.
To make matters even worse is the way they decided to depict the world of Brenda Starr. Instead of just doing a Dick Tracy type thing and just playing the characters and the environment straight forward, they decided to pull a Cool World stunt by having the film actually be about the cartoonist who has his comic creation come to life. Sort of. I think. The film's point of view is so sluggish and muddled I'm still not 100% sure whether Brenda comes to life in the present world or the cartoonist gets sucked into the comic world. Whatever.
We start in the present with a young cartoonist whose job is to continue the creation and publishing of the strip, Brenda Starr. He doesn't like the strip and constantly mutters his disatisfaction. Brenda (Brooke Shields, natch), animated at first, comes to life and tells the cartoonist off and basically "walks off" the strip in disgust. At this point, the film is split into two stories, the first has Brenda carrying on in the cartoon world (which is live-action and not animated at this point) with her adventure, and the second is the attempt by the cartoonist to bring her back so that the strip can continue and he can keep his job.
What is the adventure, you might ask? Well from what I could gather from the garbled script, it is a tiresome throwback to the most puerile adventure story circa the early 1940s. Brenda becomes involved with German spies, falls in love with a dashing adventurer (Timothy Dalton, who, aside from his brief stint as James Bond, can't seem to do a good movie if his life depended on it) who sports an eyepatch and hopes to secure a secret potion (which looks like a little vial of water whose purpose and importance is also unclear), and basically globetrots in some of the most blindingly hideous and impractical outfits ever, but since it is basically a comic strip come to life, reality and logic don't seem to matter much. While these adventures occur, the cartoonist somehow goes into Brenda's comic world (or something, I dunno), finds her and falls in love with her providing a nice, convenient love triangle.
This is Brenda Starr in a nutshell. It fails miserably on every level, and I haven't mentioned some of the more idiotic set pieces, such as Brenda and the spy arriving at an outdoor circus (I think that's what it was), and then suddenly are overcome by a large group of Brazilian combat-dancers (you remember this short lived fad don't you, that provided the basis for several miserable films like Only the Strong?). Or the attack with Red Baron-esque planes on a lake that somehow also involves a burning car on a floating barge with several cast members floudering around in the water accompanied by zany adventure music, only to have Brenda save the day by water-skiing to safety on the backs of two crocodiles. Ugh!
All of this mess ends as it must with Brenda falling for the cartoonist and agreeing to come back to the newspaper strip and become an inanimate character once again (and because Brooke Shields plays Brenda, she is pretty inanimate regardless). A stand-up move for Women's Lib, wouldn't you say?
Brenda Starr is a joyless, tacky, and totally misbegotten film. It's no wonder the studio shelved it, but the big mystery is why they just didn't cut their losses, burn the negative and save everybody the horror of this complete disaster. It's the kind of film that makes you wish the top of your cranium had hinges. Then you could simply pop your brain out, soak it in bleach, and completely clean away the memory of it all.