Hugo Pool

The filmmaker Robert Downey was always the dazed flower child of counterculture cinema (in his 1972 Greaser’s Palace, Jesus dropped into the Old West via balloon), and Hugo Pool (BMG/Northern Arts), his first film in six years, shows the last vestiges of his artistry withering away. Making her daily rounds, Hugo (Alyssa Milano), a comely swimming-pool attendant, encounters a collection of addicts and dropouts who set new standards in wacko charmlessness. The movie, which seems to be taking place in a sitcom insane asylum, is so fey and scattershot that about all it leaves you to focus on is which actor is giving the most annoying performance. Is it Malcolm McDowell as Hugo’s dad, a grizzled junkie who can’t spit out a sentence that doesn’t contain the words ring dang do? Patrick Dempsey, who plays a wheelchair-bound ALS sufferer and still manages to flash his ultra-’87 smirk? Sean Penn as a placid goofball who looks all duded up to star in Swingers 2? One actor, I’m afraid, tops them all. Robert Downey Jr., as a lunatic who babbles camp gibberish in assorted unintelligible accents, is beyond bad. In Hugo Pool, he’s truly his father’s son — a granulated flake off the old block. F

Hugo Pool
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