Ken Tucker
February 04, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

In cooking up a new TV-movie version of The Cisco Kid, director Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit) has decided to play it for laughs. In various incarnations ranging from numerous ones in the silent-film era to that of the 1950s TV series, the Cisco Kid invariably has been a dashing adventurer, a Mexican cowboy-hero. This time around, while still matinee-idol handsome — he’s played by L.A. Law‘s Jimmy Smits, a perfect choice — Cisco is also a bit of an ironist: He knows that being a hero is something of a sham. Valdez is offering us a postmodern Kid.

Smits is teamed up with Cheech Marin as his slapsticky cohort, Pancho. More good casting here: With only the slighest fine-tuning, Marin has been able to turn his Cheech-and-Chong persona into that of a 19th-century goof. But The Cisco Kid‘s idea of a really funny scene is Cisco and Pancho riding a small burro while facing each other. There’s also an inexplicably endless rodeo scene. This Cisco is abundantly good-natured but groaningly tedious. C-

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