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IN SHORT: Charming, almost screwball, almost riotous comedy.
Actor Stanley Tucci hit the bullseye last time out with his first writer/director effort, Big Night. While it would be easy to invoke the legend of the sophomore jinx on his latest effort, a 1930s-ish screwball comedy called The Impostors, it is not necessary. For those of us long out of our teen years, The Impostors is a very cleverly conceived and very funny movie. It isn't far enough over the line to be truly screwball, though characters do run around a lot and various scenes get wacky enough to fit the bill. It isn't intellectually funny enough to press into Woody Allen territory, though it comes close. The best parts, meaning in this case the funniest parts, come when director Tucci lets his actors use the silence and act. As it was in Big Night, so it is here, beginning with a title sequence which had Cranky in stitches.
Again, as in Big Night, Tucci puts together a name-brand cast including alumni Isabella Rosselini, Campbell Scott, Tony Shalhoub and Allison Janney. Added to that roster, in part, are Steve Buscemi and Billy Connolly.
The leads, Platt and Tucci, are out of work actors who, through a twisted scheme to get free eats, wind up as stowaways on a luxury liner. Also on board is the English Master Thespian Jeremy Burtom (Alfred Molina) who despises the men, a terrorist, a destitute society woman and her death obsessed daughter, a gay tennis pro (Connelly), and the most suicidal comic/singer (Buscemi, of course) that you'll ever meet.
Tucci attempts to keep four or five stories going at the same time, and only here does the pacing of the film feel slapped together. The conception is clever, the execution less so. The Impostors is not a sophomore curse, and the grownups among you will probably like it.
But don't be confused by the on-deck party scenes you see in the trailers and tv spots. That's a filler shot designed to run underneath the end credits. The hard part about selling The Impostors is that the funniest moments won't fit into traditional TV bytes. More's the pity.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Impostors, he would have paid...
If you liked Big Night, you definitely will like The Impostors, though it lacks the sweetness that topped off Tucci's first film.
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