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meeting spencer
Click for full sized poster

Meeting Spencer

Starring Jeffrey Tambor, Melinda McGraw and Jesse Piemons
Screenplay by Andrew Kole & Andrew Delaplaine & Scott Kasdin
Story by Andrew Kole and Andrew Delaplaine
Directed by Malcolm Mowbray

IN SHORT: A frenetic mess. [Rated R for Some Language. 88 minutes]

Once Upon A Time, Harris Chappell (Jeffrey Tambor) made his fame and fortune as a Broadway producer. Then he went to Hollywood and, as the press notes elegantly summarize, (he) had his ass handed to him on a platter. So he returns to New York, with promises of big money to finance a new Broadway production. That connection is arranged by his ex, Didi Ravenal (Melinda McGraw), who he "should have married" but didn't. A dinner meeting is scheduled with her, the money man and "promising new star" Spencer West (Jesse Plemons). Spencer is the son of a friend from way back when and hasn't done anything on the great white way but take acting classes and do workshops -- the perfect modus operandi to qualify as a "great discovery" (and the only discovery Spencer makes this evening is the coat check girl). The money man made his fortune with an internet site of some kind -- the script is such a mess that it spends more time discussing the guy's next venture (a dating site for short people) than giving us Internet paupers some idea about how he made his millions on the 'net.

He didn't, but that's all we'll say about the minor twists in Meeting Spencer, a film that Jeffrey Tambor carries on his shoulders with all the tenacity of an actor with years of experience. If you don't know the name you know the face, and that would have been enough to get us to have a look at the film . . . actually, that was the reason . . . but what we sat through is a perfect example of a script shot way before it was ready to be filmed.

Meeting Spencer is the kind of film we see that is ever frustrating. It is a film with ideas that just tries to hard to be, in this case, either funny or dramatic. Those efforts just get in the way of telling the story and leaving the audience to enjoy the fruits of the creators' labor. There are three writers taking credit for this work. We suspect that the script just bounced from one write to the next, without a heavy hand to make sure the finished product worked. That's the director's job and Director Malcolm Mowbray does his best to keep it all visually interesting; the story is, after all, simply a bunch of people sitting at a table having dinner. We haven't mentioned that this group is being quietly observed and harassed by Nikki Ross (Jill Marie Jones) a reporter from the NY Post (with secrets of her own, of course). Mowbray does this by moving pairs of his cast back and forth from the table -- to the bar or to the rest room or even outside the restaurant in the middle of a winger snowstorm -- but all this movement deeps the humor from properly connecting.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Meeting Spencer, he would have paid . . .


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