Hugo Pool - *

Robert Downey Sr directs this overly self-consciously “wacky” day-in-the-life comedy. Unfortunately, even with plenty of talent attached, the film goes nowhere.

Hugo Dugay (Alyssa Milano) runs a pool cleaning company in Beverly Hills. The film follows her on a day in her life. She has to deal with her dysfunctional parents: ex drug addict Henry (Malcolm McDowell), and obsessive gambler Minerva (Cathy Moriarty).

Among the odd folks she meets on her rounds are a murderous movie director, Franz Mazur (Robert Downey Jr), the ruthless gangster Chick Chicalini (Richard Lewis), and a hitchhiker (Sean Penn) picked up by her father.

But the most momentous person she meets is Floyd Galen (Patrick Dempsey). He has ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but a charming personality. Hugo and Floyd hit it off well, and he joins her on her daily rounds.

Hugo Pool tries hard to be unusual…a bit too hard. It’s characters are so offbeat and wierd, that you don’t identify with anyone. The rich pool of acting talent at work here is completely wasted.

Alyssa Milano is somewhat bland as the lead. In fact most of the characters are rather boring. It’s as if the actors assumed their character’s premise was wacky enough that they didn’t have to put any effort into the roles. Robert Downey Jr, in particular, appears to simply walk into his role, only playing on his current public persona.

About the only noteworthy moment in the film is its spotlight on Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s not quite a public service announcement, but it adds a true taste of the uncommon to a film that is trying so hard to be so.

But, in the end, Hugo Pool just doesn’t work. For all its effort, it never gets as “crazy” as it strives to be.

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