Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski are an excellent pairing for a remarkably good drama with bits of comedy woven throughout. An odd-couple in so many ways, Sobieski's Jennifer (or simply "J") stumbles upon Brooks' Randall ("R") in a store window just after graduation, in need of a job. After an awkward and colorful introduction, (think conservative upscale retail manager meets pierced goth headbanger...), he hires her initially as a stock clerk, and we're off and running. They're a pair of introverts with far more fears and issues than friends, they begin to let down their guards, becoming vulnerable, dropping facades/masks/etc. and opening up to one another. Yes, there are enough Hollywood cliché's in this to choke a sperm whale. Getting past those, and the partial butchering that must have occurred in post-production, there's a great, heart-warming, encouraging story here. Themes like friendship, forgiveness, family, and mercy all woven together. (How I managed to rent this between Man on Fire and Method is anyone's guess).
Christine Lahti’s second trip in the director’s chair; her first direction of a major motion picture results in an exceptional work, which was made with a relatively small budget, which only underscores the profound talent of cast and crew. Speaking of, the supporting cast did flawlessly in their roles; Carol Kane, John Goodman, Gary Bullock and Michael McKean. John Goodman is a legend. Even in a bit part like this, he shines. (Another victim of the editing...)
Not surprisingly, this is another one the critics (scum-sucking bottom-feeders) hammered. [string of expletives]. They are all dead-wrong about this film. It's a gem. It's a treasure. An excellent piece of work. It's a new fable told a familiar way. A glimpse of hope. It's much more than the sum of its parts. Everything about this film is well done, and much of it has so much thought behind it, while others are spontaneous strokes of comic improvisation. Al Brooks is brilliant, and Sobieski keeps pace with him every step of the way. She puts bubble-gummers like Lindsay Lohan to shame.
Well-done cinematography, directing, casting, audio & lighting; there are some minor glitches, and by the commentary, it sounds like there was a great deal left on the cutting room floor, which wreaks some havoc with the subplots, but for the most part, this is a great flick. Odd title, great flick.
Regretfully, another studio again fails to throw us a bone or two with the DVD. Shame on you Paramount Classics! Would it have crippled the &$@^%!* studio to include a bit more? They also failed to release a soundtrack for the film. Both the score and the original pieces included are either fresh & colorful, or timeless classics--all on par with this flick. A potentially fantastic soundtrack. Bad, studio, bad. Don’t let the studio’s failures keep you from renting or buying an exceptional DVD. I don’t remember hearing or seeing anything about this in 2001, and I’m concerned it got lost among bigger titles with bigger advertising budgets. Don’t miss this one.
Steve Porcaro's incredible musical score reminded me of Michael Convertino's work in Bed of Roses, at times subtle and virtually undetectable, and then powerful, gripping and right in step with the feeling, the passion of the moment. Really good work. (Really want the soundtrack released....)
Lahti’s audio commentary is insightful, (the only "extra" in the DVD). Her work in this is just too good for words, especially considering it's her first or second time at the helm. If you're listening, Paramount Classics, we need a director's edition, here. You cheap, pencil-pushing...etc.
The R-rating is mostly for excessive use of the F-word, which has to do with character development. In the beginning, Jennifer (and occasionally Randall) use it with too broad a stroke. By the time the characters have grown, Jennifer has replaced it with more subtle, much more valuable vocabulary.
Many viewers seem to have a polar reaction to this movie; either loving it or hating it. Either this flick will strike a chord with you, or it won't. Here's hoping it does.
Rating: 5/5 - go rent this
5/5: Drop everything and go see it today
4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters
3/5: Easily worth the price of the matinee
2/5: Last Choice at Blockbuster
1/5: Keep your money, stay home & channel surf
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