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STUDIO: MPI Home Video
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 79 minutes
- Deleted Scenes
It’s like The Royal Tenenbaums, minus the color palette and the whimsy.
Written by Peter Himmelstein. Directed by Barry W. Blaustein. Acted by Ben Schwartz, Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ron Rifkin, Lesley Ann Warren. Judy Greer, Taraji P. Henson, Kate Mara, Stephen Tobolowski, Alicia Witt and Lewis Black.
Every year on his birthday, millionaire industrialist Henry Meyerwitz (Rifkin) is taken out to an expensive dinner, paid for by his son Jack (Hall) and attended by the rest of his family. This year will be a little different, however, since the youngest son Nathan (Schwartz) has just released Peep World, a novel that is acting as sort of a tell-all about the Meyerwitz family. It’s sold as fiction, but the Meyerwitz’s are seeing the entire secret histories of their lives recreated in whole cloth in the pages of the novel. Henry’s daughter Cheri (Silverman) has entered into a lawsuit with Nathan, while his oldest son Joel (Wilson) is just trying to get by without embarrassing himself too much. Everyone in the family has a reason to hate Nathan and Henry’s dinner party might just be the right time to get a few things on the table.The Lowdown
Before reading the rest of this review I really recommend you look at that cast list above. That is easily one of the best group of actors I’ve ever seen assembled for a project before and not many of them are wasted, but only a few of them are really stretched, either. The biggest surprise for me in the cast was Judy Greer, who gives such a subtle, heartbreaking performance as Michael C. Hall’s suffering wife, Laura, that it made me want to go back and revel in all of her past work. I’ve seen her be hilarious and wacky and over the top, but I’ve never really seen her play it straight before, and this role should be a revelation to anyone looking for someone different and unpredictable to be the lead actress in a dramatic project. The other big standout to me was Ben Schwartz, who doesn’t really do anything too drastically different from his turns on Parks and Recreation or Undercovers (aside from being a thousand times less douchey), but he proves that he can carry a movie with this and I’m looking forward to seeing him get some more high profile work. I just like the guy. He seems like good people.
Everyone is good in this, but not everyone has the script to back them up, either. Sarah Silverman’s character is such a one note shrew that it took real physical restraint not to fast forward the film every time she came on. It’s not her fault so much as it is the fact that the script doesn’t give her any other colors to play, so she’s stuck being a screeching harpy for 79 minutes. Michael C. Hall (who is easily one of the best actors working right now) has more to do with his character, but Jack is so similar to David Fisher on Six Feet Under that it feels redundant and slightly insulting to his talent. Jack isn’t as buttoned down and repressed as David starts out to be, but David’s Season One daddy issues are basically Jack’s entire arc of the film. It’s a testament to Michael C. Hall that the character doesn’t feel as derivative as it could have. Rainn Wilson is given a dark and depressive character to play, whose only bright spot in life is his girlfriend, played by Taraji P. Henson (A.K.A. Future Susannah Dean), who accepts him for who he is and thinks he can do anything he puts his mind to. Rainn shows sides to his personality completely untouched by Dwight Schrute and Taraji is a joy to watch as usual, but both characters are so underwritten that it’s hard to fully connect with them.
That’s the film’s biggest problem: it’s got 11 characters it completely adores, but only has 79 minutes in which to make us fall in love with them just as deeply. I’m sorry, but that’s just not long enough for me to feel a connection to so many different personalities, especially when they’re all so fucking neurotic and punchy and have such a thick and painful back story that we’re never really invited to. Henson’s character is completely in love with Wilson’s character, and supports him and sees all these things in him that we never get to see as viewers. I don’t need relationships spelled out for me, but the motivations for the characters to be in the relationships they’re in would be nice. I guess when I’m watching a movie directed by the writer of The Klumps and written by the title designer of Slums of Beverly Hills, I just expect something a little more, you know?
It’s a breezy film and much of the running time seems completely effortless, which is why it’s a shame the film didn’t run for another 20 minutes. It really doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and Ben Schwartz and Michael C. Hall make wonderfully charming leads, so when the film fades to black after the dinner party reaches it’s crescendo (and after a really terrible joke), it’s doubly disappointing that the script didn’t give them a few more places to go. I know I have been picking this movie apart like it’s a shit bucket, but I really enjoyed it for much of it’s running time and was sad to stop spending time with this family when it was over. It gets so much right when it comes to the performances and some of the character beats, and, regardless of it sometimes feeling a little derivative of Arrested Development and The Royal Tennebaums, it’s an enjoyable little film. I recommend spending your time watching it as long as you’re aware that the ending is a bit of a wet fart and you’ll be left wondering where the second draft of the script went. That might not of sounded very recommend-y, but you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
Not a lot to share, really. There’s about 5 minutes of deleted scenes, one of which makes Sarah Silverman’s character a little more sympathetic and the other one shows a little more of the sweetness of Rainn Wilson and Taraji P. Henson’s relationship. I’d love to see a whole movie about those two characters on a road trip to meet her parents or something. The Blu transfer is crisp and pleasant to look at, but nothing to write home about.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars