11 MARCH 1995, Page 43



(18', selected cinemas)

Stick to dinosaurs

Mark Steyn

Michael Douglas, Demi Moore and Michael Crichton all make 'talking point' movies: is the white American male mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore (Falling Down)? should you have sex with Robert Redford for a million bucks (Indecent Pro- posal)? can you recreate a velociraptor from a blood sample (Jurassic Park)? Now they've all come together for a triple-threat talking-point reverse sexual harassment movie, which boils down to: should a white American male have sex with a velocirap- tor? The film is called Disclosure, which doesn't have anything to do with anything, unless it's the name of the Seattle suburb where Douglas's character lives, or Crich- ton finished the story and absent-mindedly mistook the computer instruction Disc Closure for the title. Moore is power suit and push-up bra; her old flame Douglas is open-necked and harassed tweed; they're at a high-tech outfit that develops thingamyjigs for whatchamacallits. Promot- ed above him, she goes up in the corporate structure and down on Douglas. He says no — and there's your talking-point: can women sexually harass men? Except, in America, nobody did talk about it. Like one of those three-way stand-offs in a Tarantino finale, collectively these hotshots seem to have neutralised each others' fire- power.

Of late, the bankable Crichton has shown a little impatience with the futuristic scien- tific ethics stuff on which he's made his name and attempted to parlay his Midas touch into here-and-now social ethics stuff about industrial xenophobia (Rising Sun) and now sexual politics. His handicap on this new turf is that he writes better for dinosaurs and computers than he does for men and women. Here, the director Barry Levinson has compensated for this defi- ciency by casting two dinosaurs in the lead roles: in place of Jurassic Park's velocirap- tor/tyrannosaurus showdown, we have the great Moore/Douglas Jurassic Park'n'Ride office sex scene. Demi is the 'raptor, sleek, predatory and leathery skinned; Michael Douglas is the t-rex, big butt, small brain, never sees her coming. Presumably, the studio reckoned we'd all be arguing over whose side to take: (a) Moore or (b) Dou- glas; they didn't figure that, with casting like this, 98 per cent of the audience would plump for (c) neither of the above.

Douglas long ago became the Doris Day of our day, a professional virgin whose virtue is eternally at risk from beautiful but deadly vixens: in Fatal Attraction, Glenn got too Close; in Basic Instinct, Sharon had a heart of Stone; in this one, Demi comes back for Moore. Maybe the plots would be more compulsive if they picked more ambi- tious surnames: coming soon, Michael Douglas foolishly hires Ava as his Gardner. Instead, he yelps 'No, no, no', struggling bravely as Demi clamps her incisors round his manhood, still bearing the teeth marks of Glenn and Sharon. Demi's not the only one who finds it hard to swallow — and to think we'd assumed Kenneth Branagh attempting to deflower Helena Bonham- Carter in Frankenstein would be a shoo-in for the Funniest Sex Scene Oscar.

Later, bored by the social issues, Crich- ton's story heads back from Political Cor- rectness to the PC he's happiest with Personal Computers. Douglas has to con- sult company records by going into virtual reality (it wouldn't be much of a movie if he'd just looked up the relevant lever arch file) and, while there, meets a virtual reality Demi Moore — distinguishable only from the real Demi in that she has a more cav- ernous cleavage and a sheet of paper where her head should be. Demi, it's revealed at one point, has nothing in her refrigerator except an orange and a bottle of cham- pagne. Her personality has even less warmth and a smaller inventory. Moore's character is a throaty voice, muscular arms, cleavage, thighs — and that's it. Who needs a virtual reality Demi when the real thing was obviously assembled in an animatron- ics workshop anyway?

This is where Disclosure differs from Jurassic Park. There, the dinosaurs were more engaging than tiresome humans like Richard Attenborough and those damn kids. Here, the two automated dinosaurs lumber about the celluloid swamp, going through their tired, pitifully inadequate acts, while all around, thanks to Levinson's cast and Paul Attanasio's screenplay, it's the little people who keep the movie alive and bubbling, from Donald Sutherland's droll, inscrutable chief exec to the comput- er lab nerds to Caroline Goodall as And then they banned hunting.' Douglas's wife. They redeem a film which is otherwise like Demi's fridge: gleaming, pristine, state-of-the-art, but nothing to chew on.