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IN SHORT: Two Guys and A Girl. [Rated [R], 93 minutes ]
A threesome is about all that Splendor has in common with last year's Two Girls and A Guy, but the symmetry of words was just too damn attractive to dismiss. And, no, the girls didn't do each other in 2 Girls and the guys don't do each other in Splendor, writer/producer/director/editor Gregg Araki's far lighter and funnier flick. That's more comparison than I'm supposed to do, so let's move on.
Poor, bedraggled, dateless starving actor Veronica (Kathleen Robertson) is lugged to a Halloween rave by her vicious and nasty lesbian best friend Mike (Kelly MacDonald) who has the hots for a singer in the band. [Costuming: V's a tampon. M's the tampon box. They're glued together. Go figure]. Veronica is having a perfectly awful time, not expecting to meet her Prince Charming but . . . there he is. PC is Abel (Johnathon Schaech), a polite, handsome, freelance rock critic dorkily dressed as Prince Charming. It's love at first sight, and the visuals lack only floating animated hearts and cupids to make it, well, in keeping with the twisted and very funny nature of the story to be. For just as V and her PC share their first embrace, the band takes the stage. Behind the drum kit is Zed (Matt Keeslar), properly described as having "the face of an angel and the abs of an underwear model." We'll discover that he, too, is struck, so, what's a gal to do when faced with the daunting prospect of two perfect, although diametrically opposite, potential dates?
Hell, do 'em both, says Mike. Which is a perfectly logical thing to do at age 22. (Hell, it's a perfectly logical thing to do at age 40, though it's a helluva lot harder on the knees, says Cranky.) It's a very funny situation, one which could drag on for at least twoor three seasons of a teevee sitcom, except that this is the movies and the animal vs. intellectual battle plays out better in small spaces. As in 3 people in one oversized apartment that none of them can afford. It works for Friends and it works for Splendor, and we haven't even gotten to the kink in this considerably less than kinky relationship. His name is Ernest. He's a director on one of Veronica's jobs. You can guess his background just by looking at the demographics of our principals. I'll make it easier by ruling out old, fat and ugly and leave the rest of the story to your imagination, 'cuz I've said too much.
And what is it about Splendor that has made me say too much? Interestingly enough, the scenes of the threesome and/or Veronica with her friend Mike are all so beautiful designed and photographed that Cranky started thinking, "this looks like a Gap commercial as if shot on a set designed by whoever did Friends." The digs are too big and they're overdesigned up the wazoo -- totally gorgeous, magnificent setpieces. Nothing realistic about any of it, but I can live with that fairy tale feeling (Veronica did drop the Prince Charming/ Knight on Shining Armor reference into the descriptive dialog that frames the film as a flashback), so let's give a proper credit goes to Production Designer Patti Podesta who did fine work. Here's the interesting thing. The scenes with Ernest, the super-rich director dude are all grainy, with the look of a 16mm documentary. Sure enough, DP Jim Fealy has shot both commercials and documentaries. So what's the point of this divergent paragraph?
The point is that if the film story were strong enough, Cranky would not have been distracted by the set design and photography. Again, both are marvelous. But both draw attention from the story and the story is what counts. So points off for distraction.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Splendor, he would have paid...
Rental level for this old fart. If I were back in the post-college to pre-yuppie days, Splendor would've passed nicely as a dateflick. It's light and funny and most of what you see feels fairly realistic if you buy the reasoning behind the menage.
28 Weeks Later
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