This film adaptation was a disaster that has been reviled by almost everybody. The film was originally shot in 1986, way before Timothy Dalton had appeared as James Bond. It appeared theatrically in Europe in 1989. Its distributors, even in this age of instant video dumping shelves, held it up nearly six years before finally giving it a video release in the US. Part of the problem is that the people involved in the production probably realised they were dealing with dated material but their only way of dealing with it appears to be to treat it with outright derision.
It is clear that nobody involved in the exercise is treating it with the slightest shred of seriousness. The film reaches execrable depths all of the villains are played as incompetently bumbling slapstick Russians; all the editors in the film are shown as bawling tyrants who fire reporters at a moments notice for failing to turn out screaming tabloid headlines. The climax with most of the various goodies and baddies in the water engaging in a game of catch with a handbag, before Brooke Shields waterskiis in to save the day on the backs of two crocodiles, quite defies belief.
On every level, Brenda Starr is a bad film. However, it almost discovers itself as camp. Both Brooke Shields and her rival Diana Scarwid choose to play it as a duel of high-fashion bitchery. During a chase sequence, Brooke Shields rips a dress and has to stop at a conveniently located dress shop to buy several new outfits; or there is the moment where she uses a nail-file as a convenient lock pick and then stops in her rescue attempt to file a nail. Her finest moment is surely when she gets up out of hospital bed to open an entire wardrobe full of clothes (located in her hospital room) with the breathy line, Now let me find something nifty to wear. And each of the ludicrously colourful outfits is paraded through the film as the absurdity it is.
The best humour the film creates for itself is the intertextual play between Brenda and her cartoonist (Tony Peck), with she constantly complaining to him how her handbags are never big enough to carry her notepad, or how she would never in reality be able to afford her wardrobe on a reporters salary. Or how she responds to his challenge to toughen her language up with a barrage of hecks and creepers, or regards him as a pervert upon seeing a navel for the first time. The running battle between the two at least proves amusing, even if Pecks character is a total wimp.