DENNIS HOPPER was nowhere to be found on Oscar night, while "Easy Rider" compatriots Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda were competing for Best Actor. And if he continues making career choices like the new Disney comedy "Meet the Deedles," he certainly won't be joining them on stage any time soon.
The Deedles twins -- dimwitted Hawaiian surf bums -- get into trouble playing hooky on their 18th birthday and are finally expelled from school. They explain to their father that they just wanted to have the day off on their birthdays like everyone else: "Washington, Lincoln, Marty Luther King and Baby Jesus."
Their father banishes them to a summer camp run by his old 'Nam buddy, Camp Broken Spirit, where they will go boys and return men. Due to a series of mishaps the twins end up instead at Yellowstone National Park ("Bullwinkle! Bambi! Dead Pepe Le Pew!"), where they are greeted as the two new camp recruits. The real recruits are naturalists, which facilitates the requisite worm-eating interlude and bonus mass flatulence scene.
Hopper does his standard psycho with a splash of Bill Murray in "Caddyshack" -- except that in this case, the bane of his existence is prairie dogs instead of gophers. A former Yellowstone ranger chief, Hopper lives underground (literally) after being fired in disgrace. (Haven't people caught on since "Speed" that this man needs some job security?) He and his two henchmen reign over a vast electronic surveillance system where he monitors the goings-on in his beloved park.
The major problem with the film is the Deedles themselves. As played by Steve Van Wormer and Paul Walter, they have little appeal. They are dense until they need to be computer experts, at which time they suddenly show signs of brilliance.
The boys' father is played by Eric Braeden, best-known for his role as Victor Newman on "The Young and the Restless." After portraying John Jacob Astor in "Titanic," Braeden goes from a cinematic sinking ship to the real kahuna. One factor in his favor is that after years of looking distinguished when surrounded by preposterous circumstances, Braeden is convincing in anything.
The film's astonishingly cheesy special effects are reminiscent of those "Toonces the Cat" segments on "Saturday Night Live." When the Deedles wind-surf, you half expect to see Sally Field fly up behind them.
From a parent's standpoint, there's no bad language or sex. The only alarms go off as the Deedles repeatedly skateboard in heavy traffic.
Meet the Deedles
Rating:* 1/2 A surf-bum comedy set in Yel lowstone National Park. Directed by Steve Boyum, star ring Steve Van Wormer and Paul Walter. Rated PG, opening today in area theaters.