Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can You Go Wrong With A Movie That Has "Cheese" In The Title?...

I may not approve of the Weinstein Brothers' ridiculous business practices, let alone their ethics, but I must admit that they certainly do know how to pick scripts—even if they’re just ones they buy “out of spite” and keep sitting on their shelves so no one else can have them. After popping in the DVD for I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With, a completely unorthodox romantic comedy written by, directed by, and starring Jeff Garlin, I found myself leaving the remote on the coffee table for once and actually watching the previews. It all started with Flakes, another 2007 indie with Aaron Stanford and Zooey Deschanel about a musician who works at an all-cereal restaurant. After enjoying that two and a half minutes so much, the others that followed (like 2006’s Snow Cake with Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Carrie Anne Moss), admittedly, just did not live up in the name of quirky and original—but they tried ten fold more than anything I’ve seen a big studio release in the past few years.

The actual movie I had rented—the aforementioned cheese eating film—turned out to be something I had seen before but about which I had somehow forgotten: it wasn’t terribly funny, and it’s score was eerily reminiscent of Garlin’s slightly better-known project, Curb Your Enthusiasm. …Cheese… centers on a loserish actor in Chicago (Garlin) who is overweight, out of work, still living with his mother, and newly single after a woman from his Second City class dumps him in one of the early scenes. After a ridiculously long scene in which Garlin dresses up as a pirate to hand out free hot dog samples and talks nude celebrities in film with a seeming homeless idiot savant, I remembered why I didn’t remember this movie: I had turned it off at this point the first time around. After feeling so inspired by the trailers earlier in the screening, though, I decided to give it a real chance. The dialogue in …Cheese… was banter-like but bordered on first timers’ improv with awkward punctuation pausing that appeared to be a devise the actors would use when they needed to steer the scene back to the matter at hand in the script, which was odd, considering their considerable weight (no pun intended) in the improv comedy arena. The bulk of said dialogue also revolved on a fictional remake of a movie called Marty, in which Garlin’s character seemed to feel he deserved a part, yet for fifty minutes he talked (nay, he whined) about that rather than tried to go out and actually obtain said part. Like an episode of Seinfeld, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With was about nothing.

Now, I’ve never been one to need high melodrama or the shoot-em-or-blow-em-up action of Hollywood’s typical summer blockbusters to stay entertained, but despite I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With having a sweet line (… of wanting someone to eat cheese with) and an even sweeter meet-cute moment (when Garlin and Bonnie Hunt reach for the same rare album at a record store), it was just a tad on the dull side to hold my attention, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in another few months, I end up renting it again, forgetting again that I already saw it. Like one of the little boys in the elementary school class Garlin’s character visits on career day very bluntly raises his hand and says (when Garlin is talking about the remake of Marty, no less): “I’m bored.” I just need a little something more to happen—or even to anticipate happening—sooner than the last ten minutes of the film… and it would help if the thing that happens isn’t something that feels like a cop-out, afterthought, or obvious formulaic choice.

The best part of the slightly autobiographical, slightly self-reflexive story was, of course, the dry Hunt, but once again she was underused in favor of the gratingly crude Sarah Silverman whose first appearance on-screen in this film was to discuss a “hoagie shack.” It may not have been my cup of tea, but still, it was refreshing to see a pet project come to life due to some very important people who believed it in and the artists behind it. Gives me hope for some of my own “in the works” projects, you know?

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