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