Bogus - *

Bogus is a poorly concieved half-comedy, half-tearjerker that accomplishes neither and descends into an inane realm-of-the-imagination fantasy. Albert (Haley Joel Osment) is a young boy living in the shobiz world of Las Vegas with his dancing mother, Lorraine (Nancy Travis). However, Lorraine is killed in an auto accident off the bat, and Albert’s custody is granted to his mother’s foster sister, Harriet (Whoopi Goldberg). The problem is that she is a workaholic single woman who doesn’t want anything to do with children. Anyway, to cope, Albert invents an imaginary friend, Bogus (Gerard Depardieu). But will Bogus be able to bring the two kindred souls together? Do we really care? Bogus is an overly manufactured plot whose conclusions are obvious. Haley Joel Osment turns in one of the worst acting jobs from a child actor in years. Sure, with his pudgy face and squinty eyes, he may look cute, but his every moment on screen seems hideously forced. This kid can’t act. At least his costars can. Unfortunately, Whoopi is saddled with a highly unsympathetic character, but she does her best with it. Depardieu, however, glides smoothly through his role as the friendly imaginary being. Sure, his character may be ill-defined, but he’s imaginary, so we can live with it… besides, he’s charming in the role, and the only thing to make this film even remotely watchable. The sappy story doesn’t help much. After wandering around with the grieving kid and unloving stepmom bit, the film takes a bizaare downturn as Albert gets lost in the world of imagination. The film gets lost at this point as well. Overall, a poor outing from director Norman Jewison. There’s little magic in Bogus.

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