Thursday, May 29, 2008

Numb or Check This Out--Matthew Perry Can Act!

I don't know about you, but when I hear things like "unconventional romantic comedy" I lose almost all interest immediately, because generally the first convention they "un" is the funny. But because Perry's really only done one unwatchable thing (The Whole Ten Yards)--er, two (Almost Heroes)--and the premise seemed interesting enough that I could ignore the whole "unconventional rom-com" thing.

So here's the deal: Perry plays a guy named Hudson, who's half of a screenwriting team. The other half is Kevin Pollack's Tom. Pollack gets underused, criminally so--but I'm not going to complain too much. He looks like he's had some work done, and just looks wrong--he looked more natural in the aforementioned Ten Yards. Hudson suffers from acute depersonalization disorder, to the best of my knowledge, Perry nails it. As far as I know, I've never met anyone with the disorder, but Perry acts like I'd imagine someone would who feels like he's an outside observer of his mental processes and body--and, I guess, for a movie, that's good enough.

Thanks to the disorder Hudson's struggling with family issues (altho' they'd be around without the disorder), his work is suffering, and enter the romance. From her list of credits on IMDB, I've seen Lynn Collins a handful of times, but honestly, I don't remember any of them. This one, I think I'll remember. She's good in this, as the sweet gal who falls for a very unlikeable guy in a pretty serious way (reminds me of a certain someone). Hudson's so smitten he tries to get serious about treatment. He sees a series of therapists--most of whom would make people want to dig up Freud's corpse and kick it around awhile.

One such therapist--the best in treating depersonalization, supposedly--is Mary Steenburgen's Cheryl Blaine. No reflection on her, but Steenburgen's part is the weakest thing in the film. The label on my Netflix envelope describes her as "libidinous," which works about as well as describing Robin William's as "hirsute." Thankfully, she's just a blip to the story.

On the whole, I wouldn't classify this as a ha-ha comedy, but it does have it's moments. Nevertheless, this does fall into my "unconventional" rule of thumb. Frankly, it shouldn't have been marketed that way. It's not the strongest story, and honestly, when considered, it's not the most clever or inventive. But Hudson's a different kind of character, and Perry just nails it. For anyone wondering whether Perry's more than some goof from sitcom-land, this is the proof.

The Perry thing really doesn't surprise me, what did surprise me was that this film came from the pen of Harris Goldberg, whose past work included such great films as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (and the European sequel), Without a Paddle, The Master of Disguise, and I'll Be Home for Christmas. Don't get me wrong, he's not going to be collecting a statue for Best Original Screenplay anytime soon, but this was decent stuff. I trust his previous work was just to pay the bills/learn the craft.


Micah said...

Deuce Bigalow had is moments... two of them in fact. Juno is the bomb.

girlfriday said...

I knew Matt Perry could act when I started watching Studio 60. But then again, I've watched Friends. Have you? His characaters are almost polar opposites. He can play the funny man or the straight man; the clumsy lover or the manly man.