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Bodyguard, The (1992)

Rockstar Whitney Houston’s lamentable debut, savaged by the critics, applauded by the ticket buyers, and after the smoke cleared, as memorable as a high school geometry test.

Written by Lawrence Kasdan (which means it’s tough, superficial and not always as sophisticated as he thinks it is), this outsider’s view of stardom under pressure was first submitted (and rejected) 20 years ago, when Mr Kasdan was still composing ad copy in Detroit. Time has not improved it.

Kevin Costner and his Dances with Wolves partner, Jim Wilson, co-produced it for reasons understood only by their accountants. They should all have stayed home adding up their tax deductions.

Even as a write-off, The Bodyguard is spectacularly stupid. Ms Houston is Rachel Marron – a pop star-turned-actress with an eight-year-old son, a jealous sister who never made the charts, an entourage of press agents, managers, choreographers, tune writers, assistants and leeches, a wardrobe that looks like the discarded glitter Cher donates to charity, and a ramblingly atrocious Beverly Hills mansion that would give Gloria Swanson the jitters in Sunset Boulevard.

There is also a demented fan who sends scary, life-threatening notes. This is a job for sexy, $3,000-a-week bodyguard Frank Farmer (Costner) – a former Secret Service agent who guarded Presidents Carter and Nixon.

He’s got a Marine Corps drill sergeant burr cut and he’s an expert at weapons and security, but in matters of the heart, he’s inexperienced, vulnerable, and corny.

At first, he takes to her lifestyle of lavish vulgarity like a minister in a disco, but by the time they get to Miami he’s found platinum gold in her designer sheets.

One killer turns into two killers, the star-crossed lovers escape to a fabulous ski lodge near Lake Tahoe, and by the time the sister gets gunned down, it takes all the fun out of their next trip (to the Oscars).

Mr Costner is as blank and boring as the pudding-faced guys who followed George Bush around at parades. Ms Houston seems sweeter than Grace Jones but not as much fun. Both stars work hard, but the movie is so lazy they seem to be hardly working.

The lack of chemistry is awesome. The soundtrack includes seven new songs, all of them terrible, and there is – for just the right accent of Hollywood authenticity – a guest appearance by Debbie Reynolds between shootouts at the Academy Awards.

Not the worst movie made in 1992, but damned close to being the silliest.

Frank Farmer
Kevin Costner
Rachel Marron
Whitney Houston
Sy Spector
Gary Kemp
Bill Cobbs
Herb Farmer
Ralph Waite
Tomas Arana
Michele Lamar Richards
Mike Starr
Christopher Birt
DeVaughn Nixon
Ray Court
Gerry Bamman
Joe Urla
Tony Pierce
Charles Keating

Mick Jackson