THE REAL HOWARD SPITZ is an artificially sweetened dessert, intended for small fries, that mistakes labored comedy for whimsy and homilies for revelations. It is directed so ineptly that you feel sorry for the hard-working cast, overlooking its deficiencies due to its puppydog eagerness to
Downtrodden detective novelist Howard Spitz (Kelsey Grammer) is perplexed when his agent Lou (Joseph Rutten) informs him his publisher no longer needs Howard's unpopular potboilers as a tax write-off. Locked into his identity as a writer, Howard explores more lucrative genres such as self-help
tomes or children's books. Combing the children's library for inspiration, he meets precocious Samantha (Genevieve Tessier) who dreams of locating her dad, even though he abandoned her and her mom Laura (Amanda Donohoe).
Trading favors, Howard agrees to use his retired PI skills to aid her search if Samantha will evaluate his literary projects for youngsters. By the time Howard's "Crafty Cow Detective" books attain popularity, Howard has reluctantly bonded with Samantha and Laura. Uncomfortable around most kids,
curmudgeonly Howard hires a stand-in for personal appearances.
When a Los Angeles public relations tour beckons, Samantha, Laura, and Lou accompany spotlight-shunning Howard. At a mall, Samantha is devastated when she overhears her long-lost father confess to Howard that he is remarried and wants no contact with Samantha. Samantha's faith in grown-ups in
crushed. However, at a children's book awards banquet, publicity-shy Howard reveals his true identity and accepts his own prize. Proving himself honest in Samantha's eyes, Howard now becomes her surrogate dad.
Full of sentimental folderol about persisting in daydreams, THE REAL HOWARD SPITZ leavens its domestic heart-tugging with old-fashioned sight gags and pratfalls. Thus, Kelsey Grammer regales himself in a Crafty Cow outfit or spastically runs up and down a kiddie slide. TV's beloved "Frasier Crane"
has a field day as this crotchety soulmate of W. C. Fields and saves the movie for his fans. Unfortunately, this flick's performances are severely compromised by a director whose framing is often at the level of a home movie. Unfortunately, the feel-good script doesn't overflow with creativity,
either. Still, the entire family can safely retire to this benign madcap adventure without fear of being offended. (Mild profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1998
- Rating: PG
- Review: THE REAL HOWARD SPITZ is an artificially sweetened dessert, intended for small fries, that mistakes labored comedy for whimsy and homilies for revelations. It is directed so ineptly that you feel sorry for the hard-working cast, overlooking its deficiencie… (more)