The Sentinel Clark Johnson

Proving once again that conservatives have no aesthetic sense anymore, this chipper would-be ’70s paranoia movie is loaded with gaffes that a genuine sensibility would have been smart enough to avoid.

Of course, a genuine sensibility wouldn’t deify the secret service or offer David Rasche’s president-as-particle-board, or be as tragically innocent as most of its farcical conceits suggest the filmmakers are. Michael Douglas is his prickly self as a secret service agent who’s carrying on an affair with first lady Kim Basinger; this proves advantageous to a mole with designs on assassinating the president, who has no trouble in implicating Douglas while diverting attention from himself.

Our man has to go on the lam and convince the pursuant authorities (including a pay cheque-cashing Kiefer Sutherland and the frequently leered-at Eva Longoria) that the fox has penetrated the henhouse. Only problem is, nobody acts even vaguely as human beings ever would — the film suggests a patriotic junior-high student’s daydream of life in the service, with obstacles being effortlessly hurdled and a childish "cops and robbers” mentality permeating every crack and pore.

Canadians can cheer the fact that the climax takes place in Toronto while actually calling it that (though City Hall has suddenly morphed into the UN), but that climax is one of those numbers where security is lax enough to let wanted men through and all the villains with machine guns are no match for the lone Douglas and his pea-shooter.

Expecting a regular good time at the movies is a little much to ask for from this, but it’s so frequently ridiculous that you may enjoy yourself in spite of it all. It’s the first great camp howler of the year, and bad film enthusiasts are advised to queue up early. (Fox)