(Mark O’Donnell is New York City’s smartest and best-looking man. As such, he has a new book out, his fourth, entitled Let Nothing You Dismay (Knopf, 1998). To celebrate this very happy occasion, we are presenting a full week of the work of Mr. O’Donnell, including some older things and a few excerpts from the new book. Yes. Mr. O’Donnell also sings beautifully.)

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(Attorney General Janet Reno and the FCC have asked Hollywood to voluntarily impose new regulations limiting violence in films — USA Today)

The Complicator
Inconvenience runs rampant when the robotic Complicator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) comes back from the future to prevent the romances that will lead to the birth of four actors who have revived * Beatlemania * in the otherwise peaceful twenty-first century. He traps Christian Slater in a dressing room at the Gap on the afternoon he otherwise would have proposed to Ally Sheedy, whose short-tempered character breaks up with him and therefore never gives birth to “Paul.” The Complicator also manages to get Corey Haim on jury duty during spring break, disguises himself as a hairdresser to convince Kathryn Harrold that her sweetheart (D.B. Sweeney) is “too lightweight”, and hypnotizes neo-hippie Drew Barrymore into believing the world is overpopulated and she should not have children (at which point Schwarzenegger utters the soon-to-be-classic line, “Adios, ‘Ringo!’”)

Uncomfortable Acquaintance
Glenn Close and Glenn Frey (in the first Glenn-to-Glenn romance on the mainstream screen) portray well-meaning but edgily neurotic people in a big city (The Jackson Five). They are introduced at a party, forget all about it, and then keep running into each other without remembering the other’s name, to embarrassing results. Close’s character snaps at clumsy waiters a few times, so we wonder what she’s going to do to Glenn if he forgets her name again, even though she’s not so hot with names herself. It’s an illness, really. In a climax sure to make the blood run on the cool side, Glenn (director Adrian Lyne won’t say *which *Glenn) finally insists they figure out a mnemonic way to remember each other’s names.

I Slapped Hitler
An intellectually-enhanced Mickey Rourke and the young Clint Eastwood (courtesy the new psychibooster and retro-morphing technologies, respectively) star in this World War Two thriller about the Marines’ Attractive Misfit Corps, who, in collaboration with the French underground (Gerard Depardieu, in a double role), decide Hitler (played by himself in a bid for a comeback) has gone too far and must be reprimanded. Bruce Dern (as is) portrays a specially paroled American convict (imprisoned after a five-state slapping spree) whom the team recruits to give the Feuhrer his comeuppance. Disguised as shopgirls, they conceal themselves in a Berlin candy shop where Hitler comes to buy Werther’s Original butter candies. Suspense mounts, though only to a guaranteed bearable pitch, as no one knows when Dern will start to slap his colleagues or cackle too loudly from beneath the counter. Ironically, when the big moment arrives, Dern’s tortured character slaps not only Hitler but himself — the most intense self-administered slap in screen history, promises producer Tony Bill (Barry Diller).

Dead to the World
Jean Claude Van Damme plays a tired wholesale shampoo salesman who knocks people unconscious in hotels all over Asia in his quest for a good night’s sleep. Late night revelers, noisy motorcyclists, and even an arguing pair of con men (Cheech and Chong) all “meet the Sandman,” as Van Damme’s character exhorts them before he slugs them (always observing the new One Punch limit). Censors are still debating the inclusion of a scene in which Van Damme fires his legally borrowed Wildlife Department tranquilizer gun at a compulsively trombone-playing Joan Chen.

Robert Altman directs five interwoven plots of late-comers to a brunch, and what kept them, in what he dubs a “social disaster” movie. Jeff and Beau Bridges have to coax a napping cat out of their car’s engine block; Melanie Griffith gets talking on the phone and just can’t get off; Julie Hagerty and Charles Grodin get lost in a strange neighborhood and tensely resolve to try their Spanish skills to ask directions; Demi Moore must rush her young daughter (Rumer Willis) to the hospital after the child swallows a rhinestone; and Daniel Day-Lewis is kidnapped by terrorists who threaten to kill him, although this last episode is handled in a light, bumbling style that implies everything will work out fine. The climactic brunch will be presented in the new Olfact-o-round process in an effort to attract the Foodie crowd.

The Sweetz on the Streetz
This debut feature by fifteen-year-old Fonzel Cripes shows the dangers and the unexpected beauties of driving a Mister Tas-Tee Truck through the mean streets of Carmel. Rodney Allen Rippy plays a troubled adult who has lost both his parents when they moved to Miami and stopped supporting him, and in desperation (he auditions for TV commercials and is told he’s no good) turns to selling “snack.” Rival ice-cream drivers Ben and Jerry (Dennis Hopper and Steve Guttenberg) tease him mercilessly for his watery product, cloying logo and insipid recorded chimes, until Rippy can take no more, and, after a frozen custard fight Hollywood hopes won’t inspire “copycat” mayhem in school cafeterias, he enrolls in dog grooming school. Rapper Mista Tas-Tee (no relation) provides the theme, “Milk N Suga’, Whip N Go.”