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Friday, August 2, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New `Lagoon' Has Beauty, But No Brains

X "Return to the Blue Lagoon," with Milla Jovovich, Brian Krause, Lisa Pelikan, Peter Hehir, Nana Coburn. Directed by William A. Graham, from a script by Leslie Stevens. Aurora Village, Broadway Market, Everett Mall, Factoria, Gateway, Grand Cinemas Alderwood, Kirkland Parkplace, Parkway Plaza. "PG-13" - Parental guidance advised, due to brief nudity. ................................................................ Backfiring dialogue is the curse of movies as witless and uneventful as "Return to the Blue Lagoon."

For instance, this lulu: "What is the meaning of `boring'?"

When that insidiously appropriate line turns up about an hour into this uncalled-for sequel, you may not be able to resist the urge to talk back to the teenage actors.

"Boring"? Look no further for a dictionary definition than the screen space these kids occupy for 90 vacuous minutes. The travelogue-style photography is soothing, the bodies are pretty and the music isn't offensive, but feature-length movies can't survive on the ingredients for a standard airline commercial.

There are, of course, commercial reasons for another trip to Fiji to film this story. The fairy-tale-like 1949 screen version of "The Blue Lagoon" helped make a star of Jean Simmons. The R-rated, soft-core remake, released in the summer of 1980, became Brooke Shields' only box-office smash, grossing $100 million worldwide.

This PG-13 follow-up, in which the marooned lovers keep their

clothes on, is unlikely to do much for the careers of Brian Krause, who plays the orphaned son of Shields and Christopher Atkins, or Milla Jovovich, cast as his desert-island plaything.

Although Krause looks like Atkins and he's tanned and agile enough to match the role's physical demands, he's a television veteran and already seems to equate performing with blandness. The 15-year-old Jovovich has a more sensual quality than either Simmons or Shields - she resembles the young Joan Collins - but she's held back by a script that plays like a children's version of a wet T-shirt contest.

It's the work of Leslie Stevens, a playwright and TV writer whose most famous play is the crass 1950s sex comedy, "The Marriage-Go-Round," which was at one time inescapable on the dinner-theater circuit. More than three decades later, Stevens maintains the same sniggering tone, particularly in the sex-ed scenes in which the kids learn about menstruation, masturbation and pregnancy.

Innocence is the only hope of a desert-island fantasy like this, which might be affecting if we could believe these kids really don't know what they're discovering. But it hasn't a chance in the hands of Stevens, and the director, William A. Graham ("Where the Lilies Bloom"), doesn't seem interested in reining him in. - John Hartl

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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