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Overall Rating
4.55

Awesome81.82%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 9.09%

1 review, 5 user ratings


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Pittsburgh
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by Marc Kandel

"We’ve got Brundle! Right here in River City!"
5 stars

The core conceit of “Pittsburgh” is throwing Jeff Goldblum into a situation where he absolutely, positively cannot act like Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum, whose success is grounded in his keen sense of self and his distinct mannerisms and affectations, is savagely ripped out of his comfort zone and thrust into a high-stakes situation where he must relinquish everything that makes him… Jeff Goldblum. Say it again... Goldblummmm... I can't stop.

At the behest of his friends and agent to seek an alternative to a hasty, uncertain marriage after a very short courting period (and a notoriously active celebrity dating life), Jeff Goldblum, A-list star of screen and not very much stage at all, takes the iconic role of Professor Harold Hill in a six-day rehearsed, two week run of “The Music Man” in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA alongside his Canadian girlfriend, who will receive her US Work visa through the show rather than the dangerous vagaries of celebrity wedlock.

At first, this seems a harmless, fun solution for all. Goldblum even stacks the deck in his favor by ringing actor friend and rabid environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. and recently heartbroken but good-natured actress pal Illeana Douglas into the show for support. But once rehearsals begin in this unfamiliar arena, Goldblum realizes he has set himself up for a failure of nightmare proportions, both on and offstage. Lucky us, we are given quite the front row seat to this meticulously structured debacle.

Goldblum feels the pressure from all sides. The director wreaks havoc with his self-image and confidence, doubtful of Jeff’s abilities (save for his talent to drive up ticket sales), continually criticizing and rending his choices, interpretations and performance. His agent floods his voicemail with increasingly frustrated and angry calls as Jeff’s A-list status in Hollywood begins to suffer. His participation in regional theater is seen as career suicide and his commitment to the show costs him a Michael Bay Sci-Fi project about cloning (and that’s a bad thing?).

In return for joining him onstage, Ed Begley Jr. ropes Jeff’s halfhearted, almost incidental participation in a promotional drive for a faulty portable solar energy generator, branding Jeff a whacko environment-loon in the media, further tarnishing his reputation as a serious player. Soon, Goldblum finds himself the second stringer on talk shows, an industry joke with an increasingly small shelf life. Ironically enough, the most positive thing in Goldblum’s life during this gauntlet is his relationship with his girlfriend Catherine, for whom he has undertaken the entire endeavor- but what will it cost him?

The supporting cast plays off their various arcs riotously. Begley, a notorious tree hugger, proves nothing is off limits by diving into a roaring self-parody of his environmental obsessions, but at the same time his loyalty and eagerness to help his friend are unquestionable, and he maintains dimensionality at all times, never losing the reality of the situation. Illeana Douglas almost threatens to run away with the scenes she is in, her sweetness and generosity so adorable, yet evenly matched with her defeated bitterness over her humiliating public dumping by a cretinous Moby, and her confusion and resentment over what the hell she is doing in Pittsburgh balanced by her steadfastness in bringing her best to the stage when its showtime. Goldblum’s agent is the epitome of the aggressive opportunist desperate to preserve his meal ticket under the guise of caring about his client and the veneer of concern and friendly advice quickly splits to reveal fangs and claws as opportunities are neglected and an A-List client dangles over the C-List precipice.

So what actually happened? Well, Goldblum was indeed seeing the actress. She did need a work visa. He put his film career on hold to go to Pittsburgh and did indeed star in “The Music Man”. He did have a camera crew follow him through hundreds of hours of the rehearsal and performance period, including off-time. He did perform as Harold Hill. He received the key to the city and the city of Pittsburgh designated a day to be “Jeff Goldblum Day” in the aftermath. Some reviews were kind, some were not. The beauty here is that Goldblum and directors Chris Bradley and Kyle LaBrache cleverly intertwine fact, fiction, and totally unforeseen random encounters with Pittsburgh residents into a hilariously cohesive whole that plays well alongside the mockumentary realm’s other sterling offerings such as “Waiting for Guffman” or “Best in Show”. The people might be different, but the payoff is much the same- lots and lots of laughter, and a film that will stay with you bringing smiles when you casually remember it.

This is one of those films where I’m laughing about it while I’m typing the review six days after seeing the film. Check it out.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14449&reviewer=358
originally posted: 05/09/06 07:04:56
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/23/14 FireWithFire Jeff Golblum is unbearable as always. 1 stars
1/18/08 RoseMary Calasa Glodblum is WONDERFUL as ALWAYS!!! 5 stars
11/29/06 Cindy Harff Loved it! well done 5 stars
5/15/06 Heather Ballmer Never a dull moment . . . Ioved it! 5 stars
5/01/06 liza shields lots of laughs, great concept, well done 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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Directed by
  Kyle Labrache
  Chris Bradley

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  Jeff Goldblum
  Ed Begley Jr.
  Illeana Douglas
  Moby
  Catherine Wreford



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