"Look Out Nora Ephron: This is How Its Really Done"
Forget the inane Nora Ephron-scripted drivel "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle", for this little-seen 1988 treasure gives the real lowdown on relationships. No big stars, no special effects, no cutesy-pie moments -- just unabashed, gut-funny honesty. How rare.This ferociously honest and mercilessly funny comedy/drama was initially threatened with an X rating, and not because of sex and nudity (though it has explicit moments of both), but because of the manner in which the three central characters verbally express themselves. The majority of the action takes place inside of a car, which is driven by a sexist-pig adulterer (played by Chris Mulkey) who just happens to be one of the most goofy human oddities ever to (dis)grace the planet; his passenger is an estranged friend (John Jenkins), who's agreed to ride down with him on a long cold night to visit a woman (Karen Landry) whom he's "knocked up" to tell her that he's married. There's virtually no plot, and with the gut-funny dialogue and classic camaraderie worked up between Mulkey and Jenkins, it simply doesn't need one. Mulkey's Eddie endlessly gripes about women and not being able to "play the field" just because he's married; he's a rambunctious overgrown child who refuses to accept responsibility for his indiscretions. (Mulkey is astounding in his freewheeling characterization.) Providing the perfect counterbalance is Jenkins's world-whipped, recently divorced Eddie, who antagonizes his dimwit friend by introducing 'reality' into the conversation; he's grounded yet also deeply wounded and carrying around a sinking weight of despair. (Jenkins is witty and galvanizing and possessor of the grandest wholehearted laugh I've ever heard.) And Karen Landry's Patti serves as the catalyst who drives both men down onto their collective knees; the film surprises us with this down-to-earth, no-nonsense woman who, unlike Billy's other female conquests, is far from a pushover. (Landry gives her character a quiet dignity that resonates.) The unfussy camerawork is efficient and unobtrusive, the scene transitions are agile, and the dialogue (penned by the cast and director David Morris) is simply uproarious. Besides, how many films are gutsy enough to have a lead character described as having the philosophy of a dog: "If you can't fuck it or eat it, then piss on it."?For those lucky enough to have seen this cinematic treasure (I reveled in its numerous pleasures at the Inwood Theatre in Dallas), a second viewing is in order. For those who haven't, it's definitely worth seeking out (provided your local video store hasn't liquidated it from their shelves to make way for disposable direct-to-video fare).