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Something Fishy

Arie Verveen & Maria Conchita Alonso
Working for Scale: Shad scraper Arie Verveen and fishmonger's wife Maria Conchita Alonso angle for an illicit affair in Robert M. Young's "Caught."

'Caught' is green around the gills

BY Richard von Busack

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY of fish swimming into nets accompanies the narration of hero Nick (Arie Verveen), a drifter who floats into your basic The Fisherman Always Rings Twice plot in the new movie Caught. A neglected but still toothsome woman, Betty (Maria Conchita Alonso), is married to the ichthyomaniac fishmonger Joe (Edward James Olmos), who hires Nick to bone shad at his Jersey City fish store. The amniotic stench disguises the stink of money; unseen Arab and Japanese investors are buying up the neighborhood for condos. If Joe can be talked into pulling the plug on the store, he can achieve his dream of becoming a full-time fisherman. Betty takes lots and lots of baths--is she supposed to be some kind of fish, too? Nick, drawn fatally to Betty, feels the pangs of conscience as he scrapes scales under the paternal gaze of the older man. Watching Joe's knife flash, we realize that Nick's the one who's going to end up on ice--and not with lemon wedges next to him, either. The arrival of Joe and Betty's son, Danny (Steven Schub), a terrible TV comedian who obviously needs a long gig at the Laughing Academy, sets the inevitable payback in action.

Robert M. Young (Dominick and Eugene) directed this lard-butted neorealist melodrama, inexpertly updated from Edward Pomerantz's novel Into It. Young never seems to know when enough is enough. Joe's passion for fish is stressed so many times that you're afraid he'll end up evincing the vice of The Simpsons' Troy McClure. Verveen's stolid, sub­Brad Pitt smoldering is made almost laughable by his narration: "I had to stay to see how the story came out," he says rather shamelessly at one point, trying hopelessly to explain why he didn't just get the hell out of there. Derivative, mediocre, predictable--if Caught were a fish, you'd throw it back.

Caught (R; 109 min.), directed by Robert M. Young, written by Edward Pomerantz, based on his novel Into It, photographed by Michael Barrow and starring Edward James Olmos, Maria Conchita Alonso and Arie Verveern.

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From the October 3-9, 1996 issue of Metro

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