Steven Spielberg’s gadget-freak aesthetic may work with a mechanical thriller like Jaws, but it’s death with a comedy. This chattering wind-up toy of a movie blows its spring early on. The characters are so crudely drawn that the film seems to have no human base whatsoever; it whizzes by as a distant blur. The story concerns the real-life war panic that struck Los Angeles a few days after Pearl Harbor; the people in it are unremittingly foolish, and the physical comedy quickly degenerates into childish destructiveness. Spielberg seems to have reached the top of his profession without learning the basic rules of structure and pace. With John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, and Robert Stack.