Comedian Steve Guttenberg's bid to be taken seriously as an actor (not to mention director, writer and producer) falls far short of that goal. This bittersweet comedy, based on James Kirkwood's novel and play of the same title, revolves around failed writer and actor James Zoole (Guttenberg), whose dreadful New Year's Eve is the logical end to an epic bad year. Zoole's "One-Man Hamlet" closed after one performance, his best friend is dead, girlfriend Kate (Cynthia Watros, of TV's Titus) ditched him because he's a loser and his beloved cat is at the vet's. And to top it all off, Jimmy's apartment has been burgled repeatedly, and the lone copy of his novel-in-progress a year's work was stolen. If it weren't for the degrading charity of wealthy, controlling Aunt Claire (Shirley Knight), Jimmy wouldn't even be able to pay his rent. So it's no wonder he snaps when he surprises the burglar (Lombardo Boyar), back for one last free shopping spree. Emboldened by rage, Jimmy subdues the intruder and hog-ties him to the free-standing kitchen sink, then devotes the evening to tormenting, humiliating and haranguing him. Along the way, Jimmy learns his serial burglar's name ǿ Eddie and life story. The wily Eddie, a rent boy who's weathered his own healthy share of heartache, channels all his hustler's chutzpah into persuading Jimmy to release him, alternately heckling and commiserating, skillfully manipulating Jimmy's insecurities about his talent, ability to earn a living and sexuality. By the end of the night, each man has learned something about himself, and may be ready to change his life. Kirkwood's 1970 play, which went unproduced until after he reworked it into a slim novel that immediately acquired a cult audience, is essentially a series of two-man scenes, making it a godsend for small theater companies in search of low-cost productions. But it's not necessarily ideal movie material, particularly when the movie is dominated by an unshaven Guttenberg mugging, ranting, screaming and hurling himself around the luxurious loft set we're meant to believe is a squalid dump that serves as a nagging reminder to Jimmy of his inadequacies. Boyar's best efforts which are quite good can't begin to compensate for Guttenberg's grotesque excesses or make the weirdly warm relationship that develops between them convincing, let alone appealing.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Comedian Steve Guttenberg's bid to be taken seriously as an actor (not to mention director, writer and producer) falls far short of that goal. This bittersweet comedy, based on James Kirkwood's novel and play of the same title, revolves around failed write… (more)