(director: Tom Holland; screenwriters: Kevin Falls/story by Kevin Falls & Tom Engelman; cinematographer: Steve Yaconelli; editor: Scott Conrad; music: Frederic Talgorn; cast: Timothy Hutton (Peter Derns), Lara Flynn Boyle (Kris Bolin), Faye Dunaway (Charlene Towne), Steven Weber (Brad Montroe), Oliver Platt (Jack Hartsell), Dwight Schultz (Roger Jasser), Maura Tierney (Sharon Derns); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Tom Engelman/David Permut; Paramount/Columbus Circle Films; 1993)

The crass story-line went off the rails at the midway point and thereafter just turns into a train wreck.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tom Holland(“Child’s Play”/”Fright Night”/”Thinner”) directs this pointless, dumb and forgettable mystery drama about office workers competing in the corporate system. It’s based on a story by Kevin Falls and Tom Engelman, and is written by Falls.

At theMrs. Appleby baked-goods firm in Portland, Ore., Kris Bolin(Lara Flynn Boyle) is the highly efficient temp assistant to the recently divorced marketing manager, Peter Derns (Timothy Hutton). Derns would like to reconcile with his wife (Maura Tierney). Meanwhile the temp is obsessed with making herself seem irreplaceable at work in order to maneuver her way to get the job permanently. She accomplishes this mission when Dern’s previous secretary, a man out on maternity leave, mysteriously gets his hand shredded in the office paper shredder when he returns and is replaced by the temp.

The boss is the high-strung and ruthless Charlene Towns (Faye Dunaway), who is unnerved facing a hostile takeover by the Bart Foods conglomerate from New York.The uncertain ownership situation allows for an unhealthy competitive workplace environment, as the frightened workers deem the other workers as rivals.This rotten climate makes it possible for the snarky Towns to seduce the vulnerable Derns and for Derns to climb up the corporate ladder with his newly hired secretary paving the way for him through her efficiency in re-organizing the office and his life. A series of workplace criminal incidents, that include a rival’s death by a bee sting (Oliver Platt), a hanging and glass in the cookies (causing volunteer tasters to bleed), make Derns suspect the temp as the culprit.

A surprise ending clears up the mystery incidents, but fails to do the derivative pic justice. The crass story-linewent off the rails at the midway point and thereafterjust turns into a train wreck.