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BIGGER THAN THE SKY (PG-13) (2005)

Neverland Films/Snapdragon Productions

Director: Al Corley

Producers: Craig Borden, Mark Burton, Bart Rosenblatt

Written by: Rodney Patrick Vaccaro

Cast: Marcus Thomas, John Corbett, Amy Smart, Sean Astin, Clare Higgins, Patty Duke, Alan Corduner

Rating:


Now, this film brought me back a little.

In the rather boring, weak first act of this movie, we are introduced to Peter Rooker (Thomas). He’s our typically timid and socially inept protagonist suffering from dead-end job, dead-end relationships, and dead-end life. Peter’s got an eccentric, condescending prick of a boss, and like most movies and television shows he only finds camaraderie with a sibling. And his designated quirk is resting on a household couch on the front lawn with a lamp.

When the local Portland community theatre begins auditions for a production of Cyrano De Bergerac, Peter gets the acting bug, falls in love with the character, and decides to try out. After an abysmal audition opposite local theatre star Michael Degan (Corbett), Peter surprisingly lands the lead role after exhibiting natural passion for the material and explaining his reasons for trying out for the part. So now a guy who’s never acted in his life has to find his own “panache” while maintaining a pseudo-romance with the play’s Roxanne, Grace (Smart).

I experienced a lot of nostalgia watching this movie. I grew up doing community theatre and it was nice to see the elements and politics of the milieu accurately depicted. But I couldn’t help feeling that the movie had already been done much better by Greg Pritikin with Dummy. And sadly, Thomas—try as he might—is no Adrien Brody.

The supporting performances are solid and rounded out by a capable cast. Corduner as the theatre’s former director, Kippy, has terminal cancer; Higgins plays his successor and current director, Edwina Winters. Patty Duke does double duty as the theatre’s stage manager, Mrs. Keene, and her twin sister, Earlene. Of course, since the picture probably had a low budget, the fact that the twins are rarely in the same room is constantly referenced and performed as a running gag. Duke’s spawn and former mayor of Hobbiton, Astin, has a rather small role as Ken Zorbell, the local community’s resident theatre diva. After listening to hours of Astin’s audio commentary and watching even more footage on the extras for The Lord Of The Rings, the character Ken didn’t seem like much of a stretch from the real thing. I get the impression that Astin likes to be the center of attention and takes elements of performance way too seriously—much like Ken Zorbell does.

Despite an interesting setting and a rather decent cast, this picture remains just an average, sentimental dramedy. Events pick up in the third act, but even then it seemed like they were just mimicking Shakespeare In Love—not exactly my favorite film. Still, if you are a theatre or acting geek like me, I recommend this somewhat romantic and harmless picture.

—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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