By Owen Gleiberman
Updated October 21, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Meryl Streep uses her toned arms and tawny, rippling thighs to do more than ride the rapids. She acts with them; she sits astride her raft like the feisty queen of the jocks. Yet even with Streep to hold The River Wild together, the film is a cheesy, plot-hole-riddled thriller. Streep and David Strathairn play an unhappily married couple who take their 10-year-old son on a rafting trip in the sun-dappled Northwest, where they bump into a pair of leering nogoodniks (Kevin Bacon and John C. Reilly). Before the film reaches its white-water climax, which is photographed to make the audience experience every queasy bump and plunge, we have to sit through 90 minutes of draggy TV-movie melodrama. C+

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