If it wasn't for the above-average ensemble performances, Duane Clark's SHAKING THE TREE would be bland fare indeed. That the viewer actually cares for the characters is a tribute to the talented young cast.
John "Sully" Sullivan (Gale Hansen), Terry "Duke" Keegan (Steven Wilde), Barry (Arye Gross) and Michael (Doug Savant), though from different backgrounds and with decidedly different interests, have stuck together through thick and thin ever since their high school days in the late 1970s. Now, a
decade later (it's the holiday week between Christmas and New Year's Eve, 1989), they are forced to come to grips with the drastic changes that are about to take place in their lives.
Sully is a foolish, compulsive gambler who has gotten in over his head and now must pay the piper with money he does not have or face life-threatening consequences. Duke, a pugilist-turned-bartender, is on the verge of quitting the only job he's ever had. Barry is a real-estate wiz-kid who's just
broken up with his fiancee, Michelle (Christina Haag), and is, at best, at loose ends. The philandering Michael is a professor of literature and struggling novelist whose wife, Kathleen (Couretney Cox), is about to give birth to their first child.
Michael's visions of impending fatherhood and the ball-and-chain existence that will follow in its wake cause him to panic, and he promptly seduces one of his female students. Fortunately for him, he backs off in the nick of time. Duke eventually pulls himself together while the friends rally
around Sully in his time of greatest need. Barry finally overcomes his nervousness about getting married and it is to be assumed that he will have a happy reunion with his fiancee. In short, all four friends do a lot of growing up during that final week of 1989.
Unfortunately, this story of male bonding has been done many times before, often better. Also, the picture runs out of steam midway through. For example, there is a long, dull baseball game played out in Chicago's Comiskey Park that contributes virtually nothing to the plot other than to help pad
the film's running time. Co-written by co-star Steven Wilde and director Duane Clark (the son of TV personality Dick Clark), SHAKING THE TREE, while sensibly structured and coherent, is filled with genre cliches and never less than 100 percent predictable.
That Clark's movie isn't livelier, spunkier and more original is truly a shame because the players are all so enjoyable. One wants to root for them to overcome their difficulties and make real men of themselves, but the desire to participate actively in this story is greatly hindered by the
monotone patness of the plot. (Profanity, adult situations)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: If it wasn't for the above-average ensemble performances, Duane Clark's SHAKING THE TREE would be bland fare indeed. That the viewer actually cares for the characters is a tribute to the talented young cast. John "Sully" Sullivan (Gale Hansen), Terry "Duk… (more)