Nisid Hajari
March 22, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

True Crime

Current Status
In Season
94 minutes
Wide Release Date
Clint Eastwood, Denis Leary, Isaiah Washington, James Woods, Frances Fisher, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Mary McCormack, Diane Venora
Clint Eastwood
Paul Brickman, Larry Gross, Stephen Schiff
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a B

Alicia Silverstone has made a career out of enlivening pop-culture clichés — the bad Catholic schoolgirl of her Aerosmith videos, the vindictive Lolita of The Crush, the dippy glamour-puss of Clueless. But whereas those archetypes came to life under her deliciously campy touch, her latest entrée — the hackneyed, geeky-yet-sexy tomboy — hovers between seriousness and self-parody in the barely released True Crime, which Silverstone made right before Clueless.

The fault lies less with the pouty Silverstone than with writer-director Pat Verducci’s schizophrenic script, which forces her to play a good Catholic schoolgirl — complete with a dorky squint and knickers (funny) — who’s obsessed with tracking down a serial killer (not funny). Teaming up with a slightly unhinged yet sexy young police cadet (Kevin Dillon), this ersatz Nancy Drew employs all the techniques of detection appropriate to, say, the Case of the Missing Lunch Money — stealing files, trailing suspects on her bike, hacking into the DMV computer, and entering abandoned recycling plants by herself.

None of this matters, since all the lightbulb-over-the-head monologues, overheated romance, and occasional flashes of wry humor (”Do you think I’m, like, the butt-ugliest?” wonders Silverstone) are vaporized by a 20-minute climax in which the identity of the culprit switches several times. Silverstone herself pinpoints the problem with her last question to the killer: ”Why?”

”No reason,” he answers. ”This is the real world.” True Crime? No, just Hollywood.

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