The Amateurs Review

Amateurs-ReviewIt was way back in March of 2006 that we posted about an amazing trailer for a new Jeff Bridges film called “The Moguls”. We fell in love with the idea of the film and the remarkable cast. But time went on and we never heard anything more from the film. Eventually we all just gave up on it and wrote it off. Then the other day I get contacted by one of the PR companies letting me know that the film had been renamed to “The Amateurs” and was getting released in LA this week. As fate would have it, I’m actually in LA this week (hence no video version of this review) and tonight I went off to FINALLY see it.

As a side note, I had my very best theater experience of my life tonight. We went to a theater in Westwood called The Landmark. You pre-selected your seats… and when I went into the theater itself, I nearly pissed myself. The whole theater was big, soft beautiful black leather sofas with more leg room than you can dream about. The theater only sat about 100 and the picture and sound were impeccable. I’m going to be spending a LOT of time in that theater. If you’re in LA, go check it out.


THE GENERAL IDEA

Jeff Bridges is a man in a small and tightly knit together town who has never found his break. When his ex-wife marries a very rich man he becomes increasingly frustrated by his lowly economic situation and comes up with a plan that he, and his community can strike it rich… by all coming together and producing a porno movie. Everyone likes the pitch, and together they pool their resources to raise the money they’ll need to become the first community financed porn movie in the industry. All they have to do now is actually make it, write it and somehow come up with a cast.

THE GOOD

Jeff Bridges is such a natural actor if defies belief. Bridges is the heart and soul of this movie. As a father, friend and misguided community leader who is down on his luck and just looking for that one break to do something of significance. While it may not be as good of a movie as The Big Lebowski, I’ll stick my neck out and say the performance he gives in this film is equal to, or even better then his immortal portrayal of “The Dude”.

Bridges is not alone. Joe Pantlianato, William Fichtner, Tim Blake Nelson… are all great in the film… but the guy who really stood out to me was surprisingly enough Ted Danson. Ted was FUCKING AWESOME in this flick. He’s a gay man, that everyone in town knows is gay… but he doesn’t know that they know he’s gay… and he keeps trying to act like he’s not. There is one scene in particular that he just shines and had me in stitches the whole time. I never thought I’d wish to see more Ted Danson in movies again… but I do now.

It’s got soul. It’s rare that silly style comedies also bring a lot of heart and soul to it. Take Superbad for example. It was a great comedy that I laughed a lot in. Great film… but you’ll have a hard time convincing me it had any heart (and that’s totally fine for the type of movie that it was). But The Amateurs brought a lot of it to the table. You love these guys. You cheer for them. You feel like you know them… you actually empathize and care. The movie was about more than tits and lesbian jokes, and it’s on that level that the movie becomes special.

THE BAD

Some of the film just gets too down right cheesy. The ending in particular felt more like something out of Naked Gun that what I think it was gunning for. The strongest parts of the film where when (although with an outrageous situation) it felt real. The outrageous in the real is often what attracts us… but too often this film slips into the slapstick, almost Monty Python style story telling which just didn’t work in this movie

OVERALL

Most critics didn’t like this movie… but once in a while all of us have opinions that break away from the mainstream and I have to do that here. I LOVE THE AMATEURS! Jeff Bridges is at his very best. Ted Danson shows an amazing side of his talent that we’ve never seen before and William Fitchner proves yet again he’s one of Hollywood’s most under appreciated character actors. The Amateurs is a comedy with enormous heart that had me laughing, and feeling, the whole way through. The frequent departures into the slapstick feel took much away from what had the potential to be an instant comedy classic… but even with that one brutal flaw, I still ended up thoroughly enjoying The Amateurs. I hope you will too. I give The Amateurs an 8 out of 10.

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