The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Monday, August 22, 1994                TAG: 9408200067
TYPE: Movie Review 
                                             LENGTH: Medium:   58 lines


DUMBER THAN Ernest! More geeky than Jerry Lewis! Able to jump puddles only with the help of his brother. No need to look up in the sky - this guy is earthbound. It's Blankman, the latest superhero - but this time it's a caped crusader with a difference.

Blankman has no superpowers, just inventions he's thrown together from junk. For his outfit, he's created a cape and ensemble from long john underwear. Still, he goes forth to fight crime.

``Blankman'' is a funny idea that isn't given its worth by the usually dependable Damon Wayans from TV's ``In Living Color.'' Wayans, who plays Darryl Walker, the shy misfit who becomes Blankman, also co-wrote.

There's nothing wrong with this film that more jokes wouldn't help. As a spoof of ``Batman,'' with a definite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis look, it is marginally better than last summer's disaster ``Meteor Man,'' which tried the same thing.

On ``In Living Color,'' Wayans was insightful and controversial. Here, he's trying to reach a wider audience, which may be a bit of the trouble. With a PG-13 rating, the film is tamer than you'd expect - and aimed more at melodrama than it should be. It lacks the raucous and reckless nature of his TV writing and, instead, interjects sentiment and plodding plotting.

Grandma's death, mowed down by the crime syndicate, is dismissed with only a quick glimpse of the funeral. So is the assassination of the mayor. These serious sidetrips stop the film.

Wayans is funniest, at least this time out, when he gets near anything female. He's hilarious when he encounters Robin Givens, as a shapely TV reporter. His brother, played by David Alan Grier, is mortified that his geeky brother in the Blankman suit gets kisses from Robin while Grier can't even get close.

Lynne Thigpen is the grandmother who lives only to be killed. Jason Alexander, from the ``Seinfeld'' TV show, has a role as an insane tabloid-TV producer confined to a wheelchair.

A good deal more could have been done with the ``Nutty Professor'' angle in making Blankman's inventions more ingenious and more daring. The rise of Blankman to fame is treated as a quick montage of newspaper headlines.

To put it frankly, ``Blankman'' should be a good deal funnier. ILLUSTRATION: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Damon Wayans, David Alan Grier, Robin Givens, Lynne

Thigpen, Jason Alexander, Jon Polito

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (mild language)

Mal's rating: 1 1/2 Star

Locations: Movies 10 and Greenbrier in Chesapeake; Janaf and

Main Gate in Norfolk; Lynnhaven Mall and Pembroke in Virginia Beach

by CNB