The arcane art of radio traffic reporting provides an unconventional route to low-gear romantic comedy.
Being conceived in his bickering parents' front seat during a traffic jam has permanently skewed Charlie Dunlap's (Josh Charles) notions of love and career. While his folks want him to become a middle manager, Charlie desires to work as an airborne commentator monitoring the highways, like his
idol, mellifluous Los Angeles drive-time voice Alan Davenport (John Goodman).
Charlie also desires Amy Morgan (Anne Heche), the kid next door who matures into a flaky but alluring would-be dancer. They share an intimate idyll before Amy goes to LA and joins a troupe of performance artists. Charlie follows, with thoughts of hooking up with Alan Davenport.
Though stuffy station executives doubt the earnest traffic groupie, Davenport is happy to make Charlie his personal assistant-acolyte. Things go less well in winning Amy away from her engagement to a plastic surgeon. She decides to move to Paris and dance, and Charlie must choose between his
avocation and pursuing her. When Davenport shows up too drunk to fly (his marriage has broken up), Charlie takes the great man's place behind the cockpit microphone for a flawless day of drive-time reporting. He's fired, because egomaniac Davenport now considers him a threat.
After some soul-searching, Charlie races the rush hour to catch Amy's plane to Paris. Since France also has cars, he's last seen as a helicopter traffic reporter, hovering over the Champs d'Elysees.
This oddball tale should have worn a bumper sticker reading "I brake for subplots," as the easygoing narrative detours up many a blind alley and humor cul-de-sac, like Amy's cheerfully dysfunctional family and Charlie's fling with his lusty LA landlady (Christine Lahti, gone to waste).
Along the way are gentle pokes at West Coast attitudes, none of much import or impact, and when the fresh young leads play out a nice romantic interlude on an overpass, it turns into a downright embarrassing music-video sequence.
Things perk up considerably whenever the terrific John Goodman illuminates the screen with his high-beams of charisma.
This is the first feature film from writer-director Bryan Gordon, winner of a Best Live Action Short Film Oscar in 1987 for RAY'S MALE HETEROSEXUAL DANCE HALL. But PIE IN THE SKY barely saw theatrical release, adding to a number of duds in 1996 that dulled the luster of New Line Cinema after their
smash hits THE MASK (1994), SEVEN (1995), and DUMB AND DUMBER (1994). (Substance abuse, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: The arcane art of radio traffic reporting provides an unconventional route to low-gear romantic comedy. Being conceived in his bickering parents' front seat during a traffic jam has permanently skewed Charlie Dunlap's (Josh Charles) notions of love and ca… (more)