If Looks Could Kill (film)

Last updated
If Looks Could Kill
If Looks Could Kill movie poster.jpg
Directed by William Dear
Produced by Neil Meron
Craig Zadan
Screenplay by Darren Star
Story by Fred Dekker
Music by David Foster
Cinematography Douglas Milsome
Edited by John F. Link
Distributed by Warner Bros.
(Time Warner)
Release date
  • March 15, 1991 (1991-03-15)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$7.8 million [1]

If Looks Could Kill (released in the United Kingdom as Teen Agent) is a 1991 American action comedy film [2] [3] directed by William Dear and starring Richard Grieco.



Eighteen-year-old Michael Corben (Richard Grieco) of Detroit, Michigan, is a handsome slacker underachiever. Rather than attending his high school French class, he spends all of his time drinking and partying, until graduation arrives, when all of his debauchery catches up to him and he learns that he cannot graduate without a French credit. He has only one more chance to obtain the credit: the French teacher, Mrs. Grober (Robin Bartlett), and the French Club are headed to France for summer school, and Michael must accompany them and participate if he wants to graduate next summer.

However, at the airport, a CIA agent also named Michael Corben (David McIlwraith), who is on his way to France as well, is killed by the assassin Ilsa Grunt (Linda Hunt), henchwoman and surrogate mother of the villainous Augustus Steranko (Roger Rees) who seeks to steal all of the gold in Europe and use it to mint his own coins under the guise of a common currency. Because important details about the agent's identity (including his actual age) have been kept meticulously secret, Michael is mistaken for the CIA agent. He is inexplicably boarded first class on his flight to Paris, and upon arrival is whisked away by British Intelligence.

The late Agent Corben's mission had been to protect Augustus Steranko, who (being not suspected to be evil) has been murdering European finance ministers as part of his plan. After some efforts to explain that he is not the Corben they think he is, Michael agrees to play along once it becomes apparent that he will be allowed to utilize high-tech gadgets, including X-ray glasses, exploding chewing gum and L.A. Gear sneakers with suction cups, as well as a Lotus Esprit. At first, he enjoys the thrilling adventures the life of a spy provides, but begins to rethink his decision once his life begins being endangered by Steranko's deadly assassins, including Zigesfeld (Tom Rack), a henchman with a prosthetic gold hand, and Areola Canasta (Carole Davis), who kills her victims using her poisonous pet scorpion.

In the meantime, Steranko captures Michael's teacher and classmates and holds them all hostage at his remote castle stronghold. Michael teams up with a girl his own age named Mariska (Gabrielle Anwar), the daughter of Agent Blade (Roger Daltrey) who was murdered by Steranko and his gang, to bring the villains down and save his friends as well as all of Europe's gold. Despite being briefly captured and imprisoned by Steranko's men, Michael escapes, rescues Mrs. Grober and his friends, and battles and defeats Zigesfeld.

Steranko, his duplicitous nature exposed by Michael, kidnaps Mariska and attempts to escape with his gold in his Eurocopter Ecureuil helicopter. Michael manages to rescue Mariska, and Steranko is subsequently killed when he falls out of the helicopter, and it and the onboard gold supply both drop on him. Afterwards, Mrs. Grober agrees to give Michael the French credit that he needs.



Originally written by Fred Dekker as an original script, titled Teen Agent, which was to blend Anthony Michael Hall from John Hughes’ films with a James Bond adventure. [4]


If Looks Could Kill
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedMarch 15, 1991
Label MCA Records
  1. "If Looks Could Kill (No Turning Back)" - Glenn Medeiros
  2. "One Hot Country" - The Outfield
  3. "Loud Guitars, Fast Cars and Wild, Wild Livin'" - Contraband
  4. "One Mo' Time" - Trixter
  5. "Better the Devil You Know" - Kylie Minogue
  6. "Teach Me How to Dream" - Robin McAuley
  7. "All Is Fair" - The Fixx
  8. "Maybe This Time" - The Stabilizers
  9. "My Saltine" - Bang Tango
  10. "Michael Corben's Adventure" - David Foster and Bill Ross

Box office and reception

If Looks Could Kill opened in 11th place for $2.2 million in the US. [5] It grossed $7.8 million at the end of its US theatrical run. [1] Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying that he initially thought it a bad film. Eventually, he decided the film's over-the-top goofiness was intentional and saw it as a subversion of the spy film formula rather than an incompetent ripoff. [6] Variety 's review wrote that it "spoofs the James Bond formula in tiresome fashion". [7] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called it "insipid, tiresome and full of gross kids". She also criticized the violence, which she said was disturbing in a film marketed to the youth demographic. [8] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 29% approval rating and a 3.5/10 average score based on seven reviews. [9]

Awards and nominations

1992 18th Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film
If Looks Could Kill
Nominated [10]
Best Supporting Actress
Robin Bartlett
Best Director
William Dear

Related Research Articles

<i>Léon: The Professional</i> 1994 film by Luc Besson

Léon: The Professional, titled Leon in the UK and Australia, is a 1994 English-language French action-thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. It stars Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and Natalie Portman. The plot follows Léon (Reno), a professional hitman, who reluctantly takes in 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman), after her family is murdered by corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration agent Norman Stansfield (Oldman). Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the hitman's trade.

<i>Casablanca</i> (film) 1942 American historical romance film

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. Filmed and set during World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate (Bogart) who must choose between his love for a woman (Bergman) or helping her and her husband (Henreid), a Czech resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Germans. The screenplay is based on Everybody Comes to Rick's, an unproduced stage play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. The supporting cast features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson.

<i>A Night at the Roxbury</i> 1998 film by John Fortenberry

A Night at the Roxbury is a 1998 American comedy film based on a recurring sketch on television's long-running Saturday Night Live called "The Roxbury Guys". Saturday Night Live regulars Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Molly Shannon, Mark McKinney and Colin Quinn star. This film expands on the original Saturday Night Live sketches where the Roxbury Guys were joined by that week's host, and bobbed their heads to Haddaway's hit song "What Is Love" while being comically rejected by women at various clubs.

Roger Daltrey English lead vocalist of The Who

Roger Harry Daltrey is an English singer, occasional songwriter, actor and film producer. He is a co-founder and the lead singer of the rock band the Who.

<i>Naked Lunch</i> (film) 1991 science fiction drama film directed by David Cronenberg

Naked Lunch is a 1991 surrealist science fiction drama film co-written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, and Roy Scheider. It is an adaptation of William S. Burroughs' 1959 novel of the same name, and an international co-production of Canada, Britain and Japan.

<i>Mobsters</i> (film) Film

Mobsters is a 1991 American crime film directed by Michael Karbelnikoff. It details the creation of The Commission. Set in New York City, taking place from 1917 to 1931, it is a semi-fictitious account of the rise of Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. The film stars Christian Slater as Luciano, Patrick Dempsey as Lansky, Costas Mandylor as Costello and Richard Grieco as Siegel, with Michael Gambon, Anthony Quinn, Lara Flynn Boyle, and F. Murray Abraham in supporting roles.

<i>Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS</i> 1975 exploitation film by Don Edmonds

Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS is a 1975 Canadian exploitation film about a sadistic and sexually-voracious Nazi prison camp commandant. The film is directed by American filmmaker Don Edmonds and produced by David F. Friedman for Cinépix Film Properties in Montreal. The film stars Dyanne Thorne in the titular role, who is loosely based on Ilse Koch, the wife of a real-life commandant at the Buchenwald concentration camp.

<i>Tommy</i> (1975 film) 1975 British film directed by Ken Russell

Tommy is a 1975 British satirical operetta fantasy drama film written and directed by Ken Russell and based upon The Who's 1969 rock opera album Tommy about a "psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind" boy who becomes a pinball champion and religious leader. The film featured a star-studded ensemble cast, including the band members themselves, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson.

Metallo DC Comics character

Metallo is a name used by multiple supervillains appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of Superman.

Richard Grieco American actor

Richard John Grieco Jr. is an American actor and former fashion model. He played Detective Dennis Booker in the popular Fox series 21 Jump Street (1988–89) and its spin-off Booker (1989–90). He has also starred in various films, including If Looks Could Kill and Mobsters. He has voiced characters in several video games and appeared as either himself or his 21 Jump Street character in several films and television shows. Since 2009, he worked as a painter, working in a style he calls abstract emotionalism.

<i>The Terror</i> (1963 film) 1963 film independent horror film

The Terror is a 1963 American independent horror film produced and directed by Roger Corman. The film stars Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson, the latter of whom portrays a French officer who is seduced by a woman who is also a shapeshifting devil.

<i>The Sentinel</i> (2006 film) 2006 film directed by Clark Johnson

The Sentinel is a 2006 American political action thriller film directed by Clark Johnson about a veteran United States Secret Service special agent who is suspected as a traitor after an attempted assassination of the president reveals that someone within the Service is supplying information to the assassins.

<i>Quicksilver</i> (film) 1986 film by Thomas Michael Donnelly

Quicksilver is a 1986 American drama film written and directed by Thomas Michael Donnelly and starring Kevin Bacon. The film, which was distributed by Columbia Pictures, also stars Jami Gertz, Paul Rodriguez, Louie Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, and Rudy Ramos.

Robin Bartlett is an American actress. She is best known for her roles in two NBC sitcoms The Powers That Be and Mad About You.

Tom Rack is a Canadian actor and writer best known for his portrayal of henchman Zigesfeld in the 1991 film If Looks Could Kill.

Nasty Canasta is a cartoon character and antagonist of the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes series who made appearances in three cartoons. Created by animator Chuck Jones, Canasta is depicted as a tough, hulking, and brutish-looking outlaw. Like other similar antagonists in Looney Tunes, he is a typical 'dumb muscle' but is relatively more criminal in his personality and much more intimidating, especially in his nearly superhuman physique and threatening use of his revolver pistols. He was originally voiced by Mel Blanc, with Daws Butler voicing him in Barbary Coast Bunny.

<i>The Mountain Men</i> 1980 film by Richard Lang

The Mountain Men is a 1980 American Adventure Western film directed by Richard Lang and starring Charlton Heston and Brian Keith.

<i>.com for Murder</i> 2001 horror science fiction thriller film directed by Nico Mastorakis

.com for Murder is a 2001 science fiction crime drama film written by Nico Mastorakis and Phill Marr and directed by Mastorakis, starring Nastassja Kinski, Nicollette Sheridan, Roger Daltrey, and Huey Lewis. After being screened at various film festivals, it was released direct-to-video on January 14, 2003.

<i>The Debt</i> (2010 film) 2010 film directed by John Madden

The Debt is a 2010 remake of the 2007 Israeli thriller film Ha-Hov, directed by John Madden from a screenplay by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan. It stars Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas and Jesper Christensen.

Loren Gold

Loren Gold is an American keyboardist, vocalist, music director, and songwriter. Gold has been the keyboardist and backup vocalist for The Who since 2012, and Roger Daltrey since 2009. Other artists he has toured with include Kenny Loggins, Don Felder, Natalie Maines, and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. Gold has been musical director for pop stars Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Hilary Duff, and he continues to build and develop bands for other artists. Gold has published two instructional books through his collaboration with Alfred Music, and his original compositions have been featured on HBO and Showtime. In addition to his music career, Loren works as an agent in Southern California alongside real estate legend Josh Flagg from television's Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.


  1. 1 2 "If Looks Could Kill". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  2. "If Looks Could Kill (1991)". www.allmovie.com. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  3. "If Looks Could Kill". www.rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  4. "Fred Dekker interview". fakeshemp.net.
  5. Broeske, Pat H. (1991-03-19). "THREE-DAY WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Lambs' Is Still Roaring". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  6. Ebert, Roger (1991-03-15). "If Looks Could Kill". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  7. "If Looks Could Kill". Variety. 1991. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  8. Kensley, Rita (1991-03-15). "If Looks Could Kill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  9. "If Looks Could Kill (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  10. "18th Saturn Awards". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2 June 2018.