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dir James Keach
scr Christopher Theo
with Chris Pine, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Anjali Jay, Pooch Hall, Jane Seymour, Stephen Tobolowsky, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Susan Dolan, Bob Conder, Amelia Praggastis, Katy Mixon, Jayma Mays
release US 11.May.07, UK 18.Sep.09
A world of their own: Pine and Jay
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Oddly unsure what it wants to be, this film wavers between a sweet rom-com, a gross-out romp and a drama about diversity. Thanks to a strong cast, these three elements work on their own, but struggle to make much sense together.
Blind from birth, Danny (Pine) has never had a girlfriend, which is starting to bother him now that he's 22. His lusty therapist (Seymour) isn't much help, so his womanising brother Larry (Thomas) sets him up with a range of offbeat girls, most of whom are actually hookers. Then Danny begins to fall for Leeza (Jay), receptionist for the doctor (Tobolowsky) who offers to restore his sight through an experimental operation. Leeza, though, has been promised by her parents to a good Indian boy (Ramamurthy).
Director Keach strikes a very bizarre tone, with moments of in-your-face vulgarity alongside hugely emotional sentimentality. Some of these elements begin to come together in interesting ways, most notably the strands dealing with blindness and Indian culture, as Danny and Leeza grapple with ways to integrate their own situations with the other's. Against this, the operation plotline feels contrived and unnecessary, as does the corny sex comedy involving Larry and his vampy pals.
Most effective are the sequences that opt for warmth and real humanity, sometimes resulting in scenes that are cute and sweet without being cloying. The dialog is often astute and revealing, and the cast members play their roles with infectious charisma; it's fairly impossible to resist their charming likeability. Pine also manages to create some intriguingly textured chemistry with Jay that brings out some serious subtext, while his interaction with Hall (as Danny's sparky best pal) is also thoroughly engaging.
Essentially this is a film about respect, so it's a shame that screenwriter Theo lets the ludicrous medical experiment take over the film entirely. Without that, and with the wink-nudge slapstick toned down, it could have been a genuinely funny, open-handed comedy with some real depth. But no, the film becomes annoyingly sentimental in the final act before lurching into a Slumdog Millionaire finale that feels pasted on to get us smiling again. And to be honest, it works.
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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