At last an answer to the perennial question about the Watergate investigation: who was Deep Throat? Two teenage bubble gummers, it comes to light, who had gone out at night to post their entry in the "Win a Date with Bobby Sherman Contest" in Tiger Beat magazine, had taped open the parking-garage door to the Watergate apartment building so they could sneak back in (yes, that piece of tape), and had run smack into G. Gordon Liddy on the staircase upon their return. Several leaps later, after the two airheads (Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams) have secured positions as Official White House Dog Walkers, the movie also offers an explanation for the eighteen-and-a-half-minute gap on the Oval Office tapes. This is fair game for comedy, and heaven knows the appetite for reprisals against the Nixon gang has never been sated. But the comic imagination falls off sharply after the starting point. Or even before it: Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch establish the SNL tone of the thing in the present-day opening, as the bickersome Woodward and Bernstein respectively (fair game themselves). Those who thought that Dan Hedaya ought to have had the title role in Oliver Stone's Nixon, where he was relegated to the small part of Bebe Rebozo, will here have plenty of opportunity to reconsider. He glowers well, and his five o'clock shadow is ready for duty twenty-four hours a day, but that's about the extent of it. With Dave Foley, Harry Shearer, Saul Rubinek; directed by Andrew Fleming. 1999.

Duncan Shepherd

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