|The Amateurs |
Actors: Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano, Tim Blake Nelson, William Fichtner
Director: Michael Traeger
Sex sells in America and these guys know it. When Andy (Jeff Bridges) discovers that his ex-wife has married an extremely wealthy man who is now his son's "cool" stepfather, he becomes motivated to make a change in his li... more »
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Honest, Genuinely Funny, and Very Touching Little Film
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE AMATEURS is about as close to the quality of British film comedies (a high compliment indeed!) as we have seen, thanks to writer/director Michael Traeger. It is everything a small town community aura represents without the stumbling blocks of cruelty that so often provide the turning point in 'rural stories' that defame the simple homespun humanity that is too often foreign to the big city life. Perhaps to refer to it as 'sweet' will rile some review readers, but for this viewer the overriding emotion at the close of the story is just that - sweet, in the finest sense of the term.
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"
A Comedy About Porn
!Edwin C. Pauzer | New York City | 04/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The low-key effect of the film grabbed my attention from the beginning as actor Jeff Bridges began his narration of his life in the little town of Butterface Field. He introduced the characters while playing his character engaged in troubled thought, sitting alone, in the local restaurant bar.
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.
A quirky film with an excellent cast
terpfan1980 | Somewhere near Washington DC, United States | 02/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can't quite put this up at the 5 star level, but it's awfully close.
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."
"The Amateurs" Is a Gem
Robert | West Hartford, CT USA | 02/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Amateurs" Is a perfect little gem tucked between boxes of costume jewlery. With so many video choices out there just taking up space on the shelves, it is a pleasure to find a film that has real value.
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."