Search - Bartleby on DVD

Actors: David Paymer, Crispin Glover, Glenne Headly, Maury Chaykin, Joe Piscopo
Director: Jonathan Parker
Genres: Comedy, Drama
PG-13     2003     1hr 23min

When the manager of a public records firm decides his staff of three could use some help, he hires Bartleby, the one and only candidate who applies for the job. But before long, the eccentric new employee creates an upro...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: David Paymer, Crispin Glover, Glenne Headly, Maury Chaykin, Joe Piscopo
Director: Jonathan Parker
Creators: Jonathan Parker, Catherine DiNapoli, Debbie Brubaker, Donise Hardy, Herman Melville
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
DVD Release Date: 07/08/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 23min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Odd movie, but interesting nonetheless
David Holden | Brooklyn, New York | 06/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was originally NOT going to give Bartleby 5 stars, but with all the bad reviews here, I thought I would even things out a bit. I think a lot of people just didn't get it, although granted the short story by Herman Melville that Bartleby is based on is certainly a lot easier relate to. The movie was sort of parody thereof. It been suggested that Bartleby is suffering from soul sickness. That he is dead inside from all the years spent at the dead letter office. He is just existing on existence's most minimalist level. He'd "prefer not to" because he realizes the futility of it all. I think the biggest problem with the movie was that they were trying to turn something heavy into a "comedy" when clearly the label doesn't apply.

The acting I thought was great especially Crispin Glover and Glenne Headly. Also the colors that they used were fantastic, Crispin Glover was literally black and white , in fact I am sure they used makeup on Crispin, there is no way he is that pale.

Overall highly recommend if you are looking for something a bit different."
Preferring not to....
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 06/07/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Jonathan Parker has fashioned an occasionally very funny dark comedy based on Herman Melville's novelette Bartleby the Scrivener in which Crispin Glover nails the title character dead solid perfect. Set in an obscure, tiny Public Records office, Parker effectively transposes Melville's constrained environment to the present day--although it could just as easily be set at any time from the 60s up to today.The other office staff--Maury Chaykin's wacky, frustrated Ernie; Joe Piscopo's tough-guy, macho Rocky; and Glenn Headly's "sultry, steamy, and moist" Vivian are great characters as well, as is the head of the office played by David Paymer. The casting is excellent and in one truly hilarious sequence, Ernie fumbles a printer toner cartridge into a water cooler with disastrously uproarious consequences.Three quarters of the film is great as we see Bartleby repeatedly declaim his stance of individuality--the only thing he can cling to--"I would prefer not to". He's eventually let go by the boss and here Paymer, to his credit, does an excellent job at conveying the humanity that a boss should ideally have and that, sadly, is missing all too often--and at the same time, underlying the humor in the situation(s).Yet the ending of the film is a serious letdown. By then, the comedy has completely vanished and we are left with a portentous (and oft-repeated) declamation by Paymer of the film's tagline that, unfortunately, sours the film too much. Had Parker sustained the sharpness, wit, and intelligence greatly in evidence prior to the heavy-handed ending, this would have been an excellent addition to the small group of black workplace comedies (Shock to the System, Swimming with Sharks, et. al.) that have given a much-needed kick in the pants to the overly serious requirements of the American office.As it is, the ending drastically weakens the film. But it's worth seeing for the great characters which also include Seymour Cassel as a higher-up and Carrie Snodgress as a haughty publisher, and for the witty repartee. (Glenn Headly, in particular, is great)."
A. C. Walter | Lynnwood, WA USA | 06/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The head of a public records office advertises for a new employee. Only one person responds--Bartleby, a former postal worker who at first files like a demon then lapses into apathy. Bartleby stands all day looking at an air vent in the ceiling, responding to every request from his boss and coworkers with, "I would prefer not to." Eventually the boss retaliates with passive-aggressive acts aimed at getting rid of the man. Till the very end, however, Bartleby remains an enigma, a human cipher who refuses to give up his secrets.Hardly an engaging story premise? That's what I thought when I waded through Herman Melville's mid-nineteenth century novella "Bartleby the Scrivener" in a college lit class. Sure, the story has an important theme and some interesting symbolism, but it's also dull, dull, dull. However, director Jonathan Parker has taken the best sort of revenge on this canonical work of American literature; he's turned it into a zany, low-budget, laugh fest--getting across many of the story's essential ideas while also entertaining his audience. Parker has approached the sort of exaggerated, stale, depressing office atmosphere seen at the beginning of "Joe Versus the Volcano" and turned it inside out, covering it with a colorful, kitschy facade to inflate the absurdity of modern information mills.Essential to the success of the film is the fine ensemble cast. Crispin Glover deserves more lead roles, and though with Bartleby he does spend most of his time immobile and silent, perhaps no other actor can accomplish more with simple posture, well-manipulated expressions, and quirky movement. Glenne Headly is a scream in her exaggerated seduction attempts aimed at Seymour Cassel. Joe Piscopo is also in fine form as the office macho man, though he has aged dramatically since we saw him last in, what . . . "Wise Guys"? Maury Chaykin plays the overweight and nerve-racked Ernie with comic flair--fiddling with desktop windup toys only to flinch every time they jump, and pulling off an impressive physical comedy scene involving a sandwich, a photocopier, and a watercooler. Finally, David Paymer as "The Boss" provides a solid focus for the film with his adaptive performance of a complex character."
Dead Letter Office
T. L. McCullough | Phoenix, AZ | 09/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Bartleby" is an odd film... strangely unsettling and sad and yet funny at once. The over-bright, almost out-of-place colors and eerie score combined with Crispin Glover's performance give the film an almost haunting quality. This is the kind of movie that really sticks with you. Personally I thought it was quite funny, but the humor is rather off-beat and might not appeal to everyone. The ending was phenomenal in my opinion but again might not strike the right cord for everyone. However I fully recommend this film for fans of the tragic and the surreal."