Mod Squad has a missing Linc

The Mod Squad (MGM) made me roll my eyes so many times that I saw more of the theater’s ceiling than the screen.

Just what movie-goers needed from Hollywood: another ’90s remake of some TV series from the 1960s or ’70s that was better left alone.

Another movie that features older white male coffee-drinking corrupt cops doing their dirty work from within the police force. Another movie with cars blowing up as the hero walks away from the burning wreckage. Another movie featuring drug dealers dressed in designer warm-up suits and gold chains. Another movie that portrays L.A. as a corrupt, prostitute-infested, drug-ridden, clubby, bass-pumping, seedy wasteland. Another movie that relies on the stars of the moment to resuscitate a script that was dead on arrival.

Another movie that ultimately amounts to an extended music video.

The movie, directed by Scott Silver, does poke fun at the clich?s it perpetuates, but it’s not enough to save the film from the ultimate box-office poison of stale plot lines, regurgitated cop jargon and predictable outcomes. You sit in the theater with that horrible feeling that you are watching a rerun of almost every shoot-’em-up dirty cop movie you’ve ever seen.

The Mod Squad‘s story line is an old one, based on Aaron Spelling’s ’70s TV series of the same name. Three stylish delinquents are enlisted by the police force to go undercover and expose villains in their own hip scene in order to clear their police records. But surprise, surprise, the cops they work for are even dirtier than the seedy L.A. scene they’re trying to infiltrate.

The modish trio is Julie (Claire Danes, Romeo and Juliet), Pete (Giovanni Ribisi, The Other Sister) and Linc (Omar Epps, Scream 2). Although you probably could find all three on some arbitrary “who’s hot in Hollywood” list, none are convincing in their Mod Squad roles as a white girl, a white guy and a black guy.

Danes is implausible as the cute bad ass, whom you are supposed to believe was arrested for assault. Come on, it’s just meek Angela Chase from “My So-Called Life.” Ribisi gets all the laughs in the movie by applying the same mentally challenged demeanor he adopts for all his roles (for example, the mentally retarded love interest in The Other Sister and Phoebe’s terminally dumb younger brother on “Friends”). Epps looks like a wannabe Shaft, sporting polyester pants that are so tight they look painful.

The whole film has the feel of one of those “Levi’s go on” commercials. Super saturated colors and contemporary music carry the trendily clad trio from scene to scene. In fact, one scene that takes place in a car wash is suspiciously similar to the Levi’s car wash commercial, complete with the 1977 Rose Royce song. It’s no wonder, though – Levi’s did provide most of the costumes for the movie.

Hopefully, Hollywood will have learned its lesson about trying to make the contemporary version of ’60s and ’70s TV shows from this disaster: just say no. When The Fugitive came out in 1993, the future of such film ventures looked bright. But after such flops as The Avengers, Lost in Space and now The Mod Squad, it looks as though screen writers are going to have to start coming up with some original scripts.

What’s next? A big-screen version of another Aaron Spelling show such as “Charlie’s Angels”? Oh wait, that’s actually due in theaters some time next year. Let’s just hope that in 2010, we don’t have to endure the “Melrose Place” movie.

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