Jan Brady is to Marcia Brady as Elliot Kelman (Joe Pantoliano) is to his childhood friend Richard (Boyd Gaines), a Bruckheimer-esque movie producer responsible for bringing a rip-roaring contrivance called Volcano to the big screen. A self-acknowledged loser, Elliot writes columns about his countless failures (among them, his small penis), hiring college kids to post his self-deprecating stories all over his Jersey ‘burb so everyone in the known world can wallow in his misery. If Jan taught us anything it was that the only thing worse than watching the world conspire to ruin a person’s existence is watching a person navel-gaze their way through life. Like Jan, Elliot’s second-best citizenship is largely in his head, but unlike the Bradys’ middle child, he simply isn’t funny! Way before Richard comes to New York to stay with his friend, Elliot has already shared tender-loving moments with every single person in his life, scenes meant to show off his ostensibly complex emotionalism—a shrill mix of pathetic self-deprecation, guarded nonchalance, and snarky progressivism. If you’re gay, can you imagine anything more unsettling than your hip father jokingly telling you that the vagina is as silky-smooth and appealing as a man’s anus and that you should try sticking your cock in one some time? I certainly can’t, but the film’s pleasure principle doesn’t exactly have its audience in mind. Curiously, watching the unseemly-looking and self-obsessed Second Best is not unlike being trapped in an abusive relationship: After beating himself up and making everyone in his life miserable, Elliot gets to casually address the people in the crowd by apologizing for his self-flagellating behavior. This self-reflexivity doesn’t justify anything Weber’s character does in the film. On the contrary, it makes you wish you had gotten out of your seat and left before a half-assed Elliot got the chance to say he’d change.
- Velocity Films
- 86 min
- Eric Weber
- Eric Weber
- Joe Pantoliano, Jennifer Tilly, Boyd Gaines, Barbara Barrie, Polly Draper, Bronson Pinchot
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