dir-scr Greg Berlanti
with Timothy Olyplant, Dean Cain, John Mahoney, Nia Roberts, Mary McCormack, Andrew Keegan, Ben Weber, Matt McGrath, Zach Braff, Billy Porter, Justin Theroux, Robert Arce
Review by Rich Cline
At the centre of the ensemble is Dennis (Olyphant), an aspiring photographer in West Hollywood who works as a waiter in Jack's restaurant (yet owns a huge house and slick car). Dennis' friends demonstrate the usual selection of relational carnage: father hen/boss/softball team coach Jack (Mahoney), an actor (Cain) who romances then dumps anyone he meets, a brainy guy (McGrath) who doesn't know what he has until it's gone, a drama queen (Porter) who's just been dumped by his long-time partner, and a cynic (Weber) who doubts he'll ever find love, then is asked by his sister (McCormack) to help her and her partner (Roberts) conceive a child. Into this circle wanders the naive young Kevin (Keegan), and the life lessons get underway.
The breezy, bristly comedy in the film's first three-fourths is terrific--hilarious, clever and giving us insight into the characters, their friendship and their aspirations. Then things start getting increasingly serious, which would be fine if you didn't have the feeling writer-director Berlanti was trying to encapsulate everything about life (and, yes, death) into one movie. The humour and the realistic, intriguing interplay between the characters is so well done (and perfectly performed by a sharp, natural cast) that we don't really need all the melodrama that comes in the final act. This all-encompassing approach is a typical pitfall for a first-time filmmaker, so let's hope Berlanti (a Dawson's Creek producer) got it out of his system here. Because this film shows a lot of talent.
[15--themes, language, innuendo] 23.Oct.00 lff
US release 29.Sep.00; UK release 11.May.01
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