Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Amateurs

Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges) dreams big, but executes small. He spends his days in a tiny bar of his everybody-knows-each-others-business small town. Andy used to be married, but now his wife lives with an ultra-successful and wealthy (but decent) man. His teenage son has everything a teenage boy could want, to include a basketball court in his bedroom. But not much of a relationship with his father.

Andy has a tendency to come up with big ideas which he seems to drag everyone else in town in on. As he begins cogitating in the bar over a tall cold one, the townspeople begin to get nervous. They have seen this look before and it has usually cost them money. When Andy happens upon his epiphany, that is exactly what happens. Andy gets everyone to ante up two thousand dollars so they can create a pornographic film. One that involves almost everyone in town (in some sort of fashion). What we end up with is a tongue-in-cheek examination of the process, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Will this finally be the one time that Andy can pull it all together, even as the wheels fall off the wagon? You'll have to watch to find out.

The concept behind The Amateurs (which was originally released in the United Kingdom as The Moguls) is that the end product you are watching are the rough cuts created during the making of the film. So the movie itself is about the making of the film, rather than the film itself. Not an entirely unique concept, but certainly entertaining. The plot does not have the depth of a drama or quite the humor of a comedy, but falls somewhere in between. The characters display some unique traits and have enough depth to keep the film interesting in spite of the thin plot.

The interesting characters are created by an ensemble cast that play some fun roles. Ted Danson as the closet homosexual (and he is fabulous...in more ways than one). Joey "Pants" Pantoliano works at a photo mart kiosk...and talks Sargentee into allowing him to be a "writer slash director." Middle-aged and living with his mom creates some interesting dinner conversation during discussions about the film. Tim Blake Nelson as a plumber who is in love with one of the film stars...and ends up destroying her footage. Willliam Fichtner as a lovable loser whose great revelation is that a girl who works in a mattress store must love sex (and he ends up being right). You couldn't ask for a more veteran cast. Although the script was quirky and mediocre, you could tell they were having a good time doing this one. That created some good chemistry that showed on film. A different cast could not have carried this film...it added to the humor.

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