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Movie Review

From 1968 to 1973, Aaron Spelling produced a hit TV series about three delinquents offered a shot at redemption by serving as undercover cops. More than a quarter-century later, he's back with a big-screen version of The Mod Squad that stakes out familiar territory—with a few modern twists.

"Our story is a darker one because we're in a darker time," says screenwriter Stephen Kay. Indeed, L.A.'s club atmosphere is murkier, dialogue has spiraled into the gutter (with more than a dozen f-words) and automatic weapons now furnish a higher body count.

Danes' character, a former junkie whose hip look borders upon heroin chic, drowns her pain in alcohol (contradicting earlier statements condemning substance abuse). In the hallway of a seedy nightclub, Ribisi is shown pinning a woman to a wall, groaning as he simulates sex with her.

Beyond being crippled by inappropriate content, The Mod Squad is dull and predictable. This limp, recycled script assumes that it's okay to fill a movie with cliches so long as a few cynical, self-aware lines tell the audience it's intentional (it doesn't work). Crooked cops. Frame-ups. A guns-a-blazin' showdown. It concludes by hinting at a Mod franchise.

Will the talented trio of Danes, Epps and Ribisi return for a sequel? Unlikely. On-screen, each seems visibly chafed by this material, keenly aware that they've wasted their time on a stinker. Keep teens from making the same mistake.

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Giovanni Ribisi, Claire Danes, Omar Epps, Dennis Farina, Josh Brolin


Scott Silver ( )





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Bob Smithouser

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