Length: 93 minutes
Director: Tim Hamilton
Writer: Hank Nelken (Saving Silverman; Are We Done Yet?)
Starring: Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, Anna Faris, Jon Heder, Eli Wallach, Sarah Chalke, Laura Kightlinger, Mary Kay Place, Rhys Coiro, Simon Helberg, Evan Peters
Let’s face it Jon Heder- you had a good ride. “Napoleon Dynamite” made you an instant 15 minute “star” and you took full advantage of it giving us such memorable classics as the remake of “School for Scoundrels” and who could forget the heartwarming, Oscar robbed “The Benchwarmers”? We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, you gave Marlon Brando a run for his money. Okay, I took my sarcasm a bit overboard there. But, honestly, how in the hell does this guy keep getting lead roles in movies? I’ll be the first to admit that he was brilliant in “Dynamite”. No matter how many dorks and late bloomers ruined the movie with murdering it’s quotes and wearing “Vote for Pedro” t-shirts, it’s still a great film and it owes a large part of that to Heder’s performance. Outside of the “Napoleon Dynamite” universe, however, he is just not an actor. With all of his star vehicles flopping, except the Will Ferrell carried “Blades of Glory” (which was hilarious, but imagine how much better it would have been with a different actor opposite Will), Heder hopefully now will realize his place in the film industry: quirky and mercifully small supporting roles (think “Just Like Heaven”). After the disastrous problem that was “Mama’s Boy”, Hollywood will probably do the realizing for him. How could any movie exec explain that a movie starring Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, and Anna Faris couldn’t get anything but a very, very limited theatrical release? Hell, old ladies even lined up to see “Mad Money” because Keaton was in it. She can draw in an audience or at least enough of one for a movie like this to make it’s money back. Then again, given the quality of the film maybe she’s glad that the release was very, very limited. You almost get the sense that Heder knows the clock is running out. As much as he’s tried to difference himself from being typecast as Napoleon, he seems to embrace some of his traits here (the quick run offs, the stumblings, the eccentricities). He plays a 29 year old loser named Jeffrey who “works” at a bookstore and lives with his widowed mother, Jan (Keaton). They are best friends as the movie is far from subtle in letting us know. They even have each night of the week dedicated to a special occasion (miniature golf, bowling, etc.). When Jan meets a nice, cancer survivor/motivational speaker named Mert Rosenbloom (Daniels), they fall for each other and Jeffrey finds his world falling apart. Mert moves in and tries his best to befriend Jeffrey, even ignoring the fact that he’s almost thirty and still living with his mom and doesn’t have a driver’s license. Jeffrey declares war and tries to break them up. Mert is truly a nice guy and finally has to break down and fight back after Jeffrey repeatedly and cruelly humiliates him. All while Keaton’s character frets on why the two men she loves in her life just can’t get along. Sound familiar? There was an equally awful movie called “Mr. Woodcock” that came out around the same time that had almost the exact same plot, except the boyfriend was an actual bully and the son wasn’t a loser. The movie’s desperate attempts to get laughs out of Heder’s and Daniel’s feud is tired and takes away from what would have made a much better movie- Heder’s blooming romance with a cute coffee shop worker named Nora (Faris), who spends her spare time writing anti-corporation folk songs. Faris is the movie’s saving grace and continues to prove that she is the best female comedic actress around (not to mention her serious turn in “Brokeback Mountain”). She is so sweet and great in the picture that you feel sorry for her. You wish that the character could have found her way into a better movie. How she falls for the selfish, imbecile Jeffrey is a complete mystery that the screenplay dismisses with lines like “I like you because you’re different”. Daniels does what he can and it’s a shame that he hasn’t been offered better roles after his bull’s-eye underrated performance in “The Squid and the Whale”. Keaton, is well, Diane Keaton- pulling the same “lawdy da” routine she’s been doing since “Annie Hall”. How any of these people got mixed up in this movie and with it’s star is a question they should all be asking their agents. As for Heder, I hope he’s been setting some of his money aside. You don’t see many “Vote for Pedro” shirts anymore.
Download Soundtrack MP3s:
The Smiths- There is a Light That Never Goes Out
Generation X- Ready Steady Go