This entire movie is like a bunch of Sean Penn's friends standing around applauding as he demonstrates exactly how a real actor employs his talent. And for as long as that's enough to intrique you, this is a great film. But once you've seen the range and internally applauded at how the guy could outact Nic Cage a billion times over, what you're left with is a long long long mess of a film.So maybe the play was an American classic. So maybe the cast is up and down Oscar/Emmy heavy. So maybe it started with a zoom and paid no heed to the usual taboos.
It still got boring and dragged on forever.
Maybe it delved into the whole LA/showbiz/drugs/booze/reckless sex thing like no other film.
It still shitted me off.
Why? Because it's indulgent to a heinous degree. An hour too long, the characters are caricatures, and Chazz Palmintieri takes himself way too seriously.
This is the film that just wouldn't end. It was like Penn got on a roll and nobody had the nerve to say "uhh, Sean, everybody's gone home. It's over." A serious case of the same malaise that turned Thin Red Line from auteur classic to neverending story.
Shining lights of the film? Meg Ryan (awesome - why doesn't she do more roles like this that allow her to actually act and not just perform?), Anna Paquin (underplaying it well to everyone else's severe overplay), Gary Shandling (is he ever not worth watching?), Robin Wright Penn (an actress, pure and simple), Kevin Spacey (ultra-cool) and Sean Penn (he is to 90's acting what Jimmy Dean was to the 50's - method-o-rama).
By Gods, that's the entire cast of the film minus Pamintieri! What does that tell you? It tells me Chazz needs to stick to mob guy roles.To quote Penn in an all too true quote to Chazz's character: "You're no actor. You're background. You're a prop. You're location. You're atmosphere. They roll you out when they want a cheesy mob guy. You're no actor."
Lot's to love, but an awful lot to not love. More's the pity.