Saturday Night Live comedians fall into two convenient categories. There are the Chases, Murrays, Murphys, and Belushis — aggressive type A’s around whom sketches are built and whose personae are coherent enough to carry feature films. And there are the chameleons: the skillful, colorless quick-change majority who serve the skits and who (with the somewhat mystifying exception of Dan Aykroyd) end up in harmless duds like Opportunity Knocks.
Here it’s Dana Carvey’s turn to try and flail. Actively disliked by many in its theatrical run, Opportunity Knocks plays a little better on the home screen, mainly because it’s a cheaper investment. The arthritic story casts Carvey as Eddie Farrell, a small-time con man who bluffs his way into society, falls in love with the boss’ daughter, and has a change of heart (for another example, see — actually, don’t see — the current Taking Care of Business). The producers have rounded up a great supporting cast — Robert Loggia, Todd Graff, Doris Belack — but the script is an unforgivable retread and Donald Petrie’s direction is lazy, pick-up-the-check hackwork.
And Carvey? He seems like a hell of a nice guy, and he does a spot-on George Bush parody. He has shown a gift on Saturday Night Live for spoofing bland fringe zanies, but as a lead actor he’s, well, a nice guy. Opportunity Knocks sits around and waits for its star to get crazy — to act like a star — but Carvey’s like the funniest guy at the company picnic, out of his league and timid with stage fright. Stuck without shtick, he is a mildly distressing figure: a polite comic.