`If Looks Could Kill" is one of those zany capers that come along occasionally to remind us of the pleasures of Wretched Excess.
The movie tells a bizarre story about middle Americans trapped inside the byzantine intrigues of Europe, and is perhaps the only film I can recall in which a mad economist traps an entire Detroit high school French class in an iron cage suspended above a cauldron of boiling gold.
At first, it appears the movie is only going to be another one of those brain-damaged caper ripoffs in which boring people do stupid things at half the pace of real life. Then it turns on the supercharger and transforms itself into the kind of hallucinatory fable in which a tiny woman wears a golden whip around her neck, and uses it to reduce foreign ministers into lumps of placation.
The movie's hero is TV star Richard Grieco ("Booker"), who has the kind of sleek dark looks that make you suspect he's wearing mascara when he's probably not. He plays a high school senior who has flunked his French class, but has a chance to make up the grade during the French Club's summer tour of Europe. The name of his character is Michael Corben - and that's an important detail, because on board the same flight to Europe is a superspy, also named Michael Corben, and when the real spy is killed, Grieco is mistaken for him.