Clumsily mashing up Leaving Las Vegas and Hardcore, Finding Amanda follows TV show writer and alcoholic compulsive gambler Taylor (Matthew Broderick) as he travels to Sin City to track down his whoring niece Amanda (Brittney Snow). Rescue Me co-creator Peter Tolan’s feature directorial debut aims for drama and some laughs as well, attempting to hold a seriocomic line as it indulges in marital friction, goofy caricatures and poignant soliloquies about maiden-prostitute experiences. It’s a tone that wavers to the point of breaking, the film too glib to be rending and too solemn to be hilarious. Taylor’s fondness for betting the ponies has him on the outs with dutiful wife Lorraine (Maura Tierney), so loyal that she physically accosts an acquaintance who dares slander her hubby’s crappy television gig. When informed of Amanda’s descent into sleaze, Taylor recognizes an opportunity to indulge in Vegas vice, thus affording a central irony—he wants Amanda to enter rehab, but he’s the one in dire need of help—from which the film wrings almost no humor. Taylor finds Amanda cheery and perfectly upfront about her new lifestyle, which provides a level of material comfort that her divorced parents never did. Alas, this comfortable, blasé attitude toward her chosen profession, as well as her self-deceptive attempts to create an idyllic home environment with cheating boyfriend Greg (Peter Facinelli), persistently feel like scripted rather than authentic attributes, an impression driven home during Amanda’s affected audition tape-ready confession about the first time she earned cash for sex. While Snow’s bouncy performance is hampered by a story that lacks a definitive attitude toward (or coherent endpoint for) Amanda, Broderick is left to flounder about in the purgatory between funny and grim self-destructiveness, his Taylor sabotaged by a narrative arc that’s both tediously telegraphed and dull. Finding Amanda‘s inability to find a consistent groove that might best utilize its appealing leads, however, is secondary to its overarching unimaginativeness, epitomized by a bit of sub-Get Shorty entertainment-industry satire involving a pimp with screenwriting aspirations that’s pure bottom-of-the-barrel.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 90 min
- Peter Tolan
- Peter Tolan
- Matthew Broderick, Brittany Snow, Maura Tierney, Steve Coogan, Peter Facinelli
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