The Amateurs

"Very Good"

The Amateurs Review


Andy (Jeff Bridges) is, as they say, an idea man. He mopes and mopes until a brainstorm hits him and launches him out of the bar: Say, getting everyone in his small town to sell vitamins in a pyramid scheme, only to find that, if everyone's selling, no one's buying.

An idea man, you see.

Andy's latest idea is to grab a bit of the billion-dollar porn industry by bringing the town together to produce an amateur adult movie. Naturally, everyone, despite being burned numerous times by Andy in the past, will pour their money into the film all the same.

Such is the setup of the goofily fun The Amateurs, which despite some laugh-out-loud moments and a cast of stars that includes Bridges, Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano, Lauren Graham, and Jeanne Tripplehorn, among others, immediately crashed at the box office and all but went straight to DVD.

If I had to guess what the problem was, I'd wager it's Bridges' incessant ha-ha-folksy-we're-all-in-on-it voice-over narration, which lends the film the feeling of a crazy old coot talking your ear off when you're trapped next to him on a long bus ride. Bridges' Andy seems like a swell guy -- kind of like The Big Lebowski's Dude, but with ambition -- but his tale's wandering, random, "we're skipping ahead here" nature wears you down too fast as it becomes apparent that writer/director Michael Traeger is really just fishing for scenes so he can set us up for a gag.

While it can be tiresome, that's not entirely bad way to get people to laugh: Andy's attempts to make a porn movie -- something he knows nothing about -- are naturally comedic. His "research" generates a list of five "must have" scenes for the film -- the funniest of which include his hapless attempts to cast and shoot a scene involving the local ice cream shop counter girl being savaged by "three giant black guys." An early script includes a plot that involves sex on top of a speeding train and a nuclear bomb being defused. And in the film's longest-running joke, Danson's Moose attempts to prove he's not gay (which, of course, he is) by agreeing to bed a local, aging stripper on camera, with all the expected consequences.

The Amateurs, which, by the way, has only the occasional butt-shot in the way of nudity and is completely approachable for couples looking for something for date night, is ultimately heartwarming and humorous enough to merit a recommendation, though the sappy ending rings a little false. Once again, the Dude abides.

Aka The Moguls.

Which way to the keg?



Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th April 2006

Distributed by: First Look Studios

Production compaines: First Look International

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 15%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Aaron Ryder

Starring: as Andy, as Peggy, as Moose, as Barney, as Some Idiot, as Emmett, as Otis, as Moe, as Helen, as Thelma, as Howard, as Ellie, as Mrs. Cherkiss, as Wally, as Homer, as Billy, as Boy at Concession Stand

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