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1 review, 3 user ratings

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Looking for an Echo
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by Scott Weinberg

"Doo-wop melodrama made watchable through sheer force of Assante."
3 stars

It doesn't happen all too often, but once in a while a movie comes along that's watching solely for one showstopping performance. That's not to say that "Looking for an Echo" is a bad flick; itís just that much of this earnest melodrama is rather predictable and familiar, albeit certainly worth a look for those who admire old-fashioned doo-wop music.

The crown jewel of this little-known movie is Armand Assante, long-time movie actor and generally underrated performer. (Sure, heís been mired in stuff like 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Judge Dredd, but Assante shines in movies like Mambo Kings and Hoffa, while he delivers an absolutely brilliant parody in the otherwise disposable Fatal Instinct.) He may look like Al Pacinoís little brother (or maybe Andy Garciaís dad), but Armand Assante's been around for a while now, and while he's never been a major movie star - he's always worth watching, and few actors can claim the same thing.

Assante plays a middle-aged widower named Vinnie Pirelli, one of those hard-working, decent Brooklyn guys with some devoted pals and some well-adjusted children. His youngest son is an aspiring musician, which makes some sense since Vinnie was once a national sensation as front man for Vinnie and the Dreamers. But time has not been kind to the onetime pop star, as his wife has recently died and his only daughter lies in a hospital bed, battling cancer. Several familiar subplots intermittently surface, such as Vinnieís cautious romance with a devoted nurse, and when the old band members pop up for Vinnieís birthday, causing a whole lot of nostalgic ruminations.

If it sounds like Looking for an Echo is kind of "all over the place", well thatís because it is. The movie is firmly centered around Assante's wholly likeable character, yet none of his surrounding subplots are given enough screen time. A rocky relationship with his youngest son is bypassed in favor of a tentative romance. Then there's a not-too-sappy-yet-still-contrived cancer kid stuff, which is overlooked in favor of a subplot involving Vinnieís old singing buddies and their depressing trip to Atlantic City.

Looking for an Echo is full of satisfying moments, yet itís not an altogether satisfying movie. If youíre a fan of 'slice-of-life' flicks about one affable guy and his extended family, Looking for an Echo is a fairly good time. Director Martin Davidson (Eddie and the Cruisers, Hero at Large) is clearly enamored with his main character, almost to a fault. Nothing in the film happens outside of Vinnieís perspective and, while this helps to 'flesh out' the main character quite a bit, it leaves an intriguing collection of supporting players sitting on the sidelines.

Most highly recommended to fans of old-fashioned 'doo-wop' music and the time-frame in which they were most popular, Looking for an Echo is certainly worth a look if - only for the superlative performance by Assante. Movie purists may want to take note that the film is presented solely in a garish and unattractive Full Frame aspect ratio.

Davidson employs some effective visual techniques, yet theyíre all but undone by the despicable pan-and-scan format on this DVD.

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originally posted: 05/02/04 15:12:40
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User Comments

3/13/10 GEORGE B. FEIST love the music 4 stars
9/09/07 Norma Miranda Lima excelente. trilha sonora impec√°vel 5 stars
8/23/05 Sarah Kane Armand Assante captures Vinny to a T, the loveablewinner/ loser 4 stars
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