NEW Amateurs (DVD)
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Bridges/Danson ~ Amateurs
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Bridges is Andy Sargentee, a husband and father who places his impulses above the economic viability of the family by relieving himself on the desks of every supervisor he has had (and despises). His wife, played by Jeanne Triplehorn, sets off into divorce and the sunset with the station wagon and their son.
Bridges only support now is the town of Butterface Field, the place in which he was born and raised. The townsfolk know him well enough especially when he is about to come up with a brainstorm, which they are apprehensive about. Friends and neighbors at adjacent tables see the mental storm brewing. (He led them into a Ponzi scheme before just when the tulip bubble bubbled, proving his brainstorm nothing more than a light drizzle).
But now, he's got it!
He and the town will make a fortune creating a genuine, amateur porn film! He quickly enlists his friends to invest their meager sum and even more meager talents as actors, writers, directors and so on. They also have to get girls for the part, and enlist Black actors for their presumed assets. They find a young, counter girl from an ice cream store, an aging stripper, and a bedding store saleswoman, who insists on getting it on with the storeowner.
Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano, William Fichtner, Lauren Graham, Glenne Headley, Tim Blake Nelson, and Jeanne Tripplehorn make this "light" film work along with the superb direction of Michael Traegor. No actor overplays his or her part. The humor is subtle, even hilarious at some points. And for a movie about porn, there is no flesh or foul language.
A colleague at work recommended this; her stock has gone way up.
This is a keeper.
The film is narrated by the down and out, unemployed, newly divorced middle-aged crisis victim Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges) who spends his time in the local watering hole trying to come up with an idea that will change his fortune - and life. Giving up his marriage to Thelma (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and his son Billy (Alex D. Linz) has been painful but Andy believes he will somehow regain their respect by discovering his 'big idea'. Surrounding him are other underachievers such as Some Idiot (Joe Pantoliano), Barney Macklehatton (Tim Blake Nelson) hopelessly in love with loony dreamer Helen (Glenne Headly), church janitor Otis (William Fichtner), local video store worker and video buff Emmett (Patrick Fugit), Moe/Ron (John Hawkes and Brad William Henke) who are never seen alone, the closeted gay Moose (Ted Danson), and bartender Floyd (Tom Bower) among other 'observers'. A wild idea occurs to Andy: he and his friends could make an amateur porn film and make money and gain fame. Out of both love of Andy and individual needs to make something of their boring existence in the little town, the group commits to helping Andy with his project. How the steps succeed and fail underline the integrity and unconditional friendship these simple people represent. Along the way we meet the porn film's stars including Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer, Fiona Hunter, Isaiah Washington, Melinda Dahl - all of whom eagerly participate in the 'very private' filming concept of an amateur porn film. How the final product is threatened and ultimately survives produces the warm ending to the film. And along the way we get to know Thelma's new husband Howard (Steven Weber) who breaks the stereotype of the rich new stepfather, and these small town folk including Dawn Didawick, Jayne Taini, Lauren Graham, and Eileen Brennan (who contributes a very special cameo role).
The film has been named THE MOGULS and DIRTY MOVIE in other countries and perhaps that confusion of titles has been part of the problem of the lack of promotion the film received in the theaters. But in a way, seeing this very special movie in home surroundings adds to the intimacy and the very warmly honest view of the genuinely kind and caring interrelationships among the people of this small town. There is much to be learned from this film and the added features include the writer/director sharing the experience with each of the actors in this truly ensemble work. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 08
Big props to the cast here as they really do a great job here and seem perfectly cast for the roles each is asked to play.
Lead actor Jeff Bridges puts on a great performance as a man (Andy Sargentee) that is looking for his one big break, but unfortunately has failed at everything he's ever tried. Early on we find that he lost his wife because he's just not able to be responsible and can't take care of his family because of his lack of steady income. His son's birthday comes up and he goes to the store to buy a gift for him only to realize he just can't afford the one he feels is right. Real embarassment kicks in when he goes to his wife's new home and finds that it isn't just a big home, it's a complete mansion.
From that embarassment springs inspiration as Andy sits deep in thought in the town bar. Eventually he's inspired to make a porn movie with the help and support of his friends, a cast of some of the weirdest and wildest characters you'd ever find assembled.
This film isn't a continuous laugh fest, but it is very entertaining. Some parts would seem predictable, but the story does a good job of planting timely distractions and diversions along the way that keep things very fresh.
While the movie is about the making of a porn film, the nudity in the film is fairly tasteful and there is no sex really shown in the film. There are however sexual references, sex toys and discussion of porn movies is prevalent so this isn't a film for the easily disturbed.
Well worth a purchase and priced at a fair level.
When you finish watching "The Amateurs" you will feel like you have been given a very special gift. The framework around the substance of the film is recognizable: A father seeking a meaningful relationship with his son;"characters" in a small town who stumble around and win in the end- but the movie is much more than that. The characters have dimension, and belie stereotypes.
This film is about kindness, generosity, friendship, acceptance, and just doing the next right thing. Using the creation of such a crass commodity as a porno film as the vehicle these lessons arrive in is just sublime. "The Amateurs" may be rated R for language and sexual content, but I have never seen these potential offenders made so impotent than they are by their treatment in this film. If Frank Capra worked in 2008, "It's a Wonderful Life" might well have looked like this movie.
I keep very few films on video for repeated viewing. Most just don't have long-term presence. I'm keeping this one so my son and his friends can watch it- seven years from now.
Yes, it's heartwarming. Yes, the little town is filled with the predictable eccentrics who do the expected offbeat things. Yes, everything ends well for everybody (except the big brother). Despite all those drawbacks, this movie is funny. Great casting, great writing, great acting (as much as is demanded by the material).
The Jeff Bridges overstory and narration is the glue that brings all the individual characters and their lines into one whole; his gentle persona creates the film, not only in the story sense but in reality. A great entertainment if you're not offended by graphic but good-natured language.