Friday, October 5, 2012

No Deposit, No Return (1976)

Although it’s basically harmless, No Deposit, No Return is hard to praise for many reasons. Firstly, the movie represents the Walt Disney Productions style of inoffensive storytelling run amok—the movie contorts itself to ensure that every character is likeable except for one minor villain, thus eradicating narrative conflict. Worse, these plot contrivances cause the movie to sprawl over 112 meandering minutes, and the film’s premise is far too thin to support the running time. So, even though the picture’s performances are generally fine and the production values are respectable, No Deposit, No Return is tiresome. When the movie begins, spunky young siblings Tracy (Kim Richards) and Jay (Brad Savage) learn their mother, a magazine editor, won’t be joining them as expected for vacation during the kids’ break from boarding school. Instead, the children are being sent to stay with their super-rich grandfather, J.W. Osborne (David Niven), who detests their company. Since the feeling is mutual, the kids run away, ending up in a cab with inept robbers Bert (Don Knotts) and Duke (Darren McGavin). The enterprising urchins blackmail the crooks into “kidnapping” them—in exchange for part of the ransom the kids plan to demand from J.W., the crooks agree to hide the kids in their lair for a period of time. Meanwhile, J.W. is aware of everything that’s happening, so he lets the kids stay “kidnapped” rather than intervening. Slapstick ensues, with a side of gooey sentiment. When listing this movie’s plot problems, it’s hard to know where to begin. Bert and Duke are master criminals whom the police desperately want to catch, and yet they’re also boobs who never actually steal anything? The kids found the only two criminals in the world who like babysitting? J.W. would rather let his grandchildren stay with strangers than tolerate their company? You get the idea. Knotts, McGavin, and Niven do their best, given the shoddy material, while Richards and Savage are palatable as Disney kids go, but the movie is so absurdly contrived that it ends up feeling more like a Disney knockoff than actual Mouse House product.

No Deposit, No Return: LAME

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