"This movie has everything: salient social commentary, great acting and character development, a captivating and touching story line, timely humor, cameos (Billy Bob Thornton, John Cusack, Kim Wayans, Steve Buschemi, Ethan Hawke, and others), and most importantly it deals with the human soul and the complexities of navigating your way through the hardships of the modern world in which we live. I stumbled across this flick while watching the IFC back in 97'. Since then, I've seen this film at least 10 times, and each time its has helped me to clear my head and put things in perspective. Everyone I've ever shared this brilliant picture with has been truly touched by it. If your in search of meaning in the world, yourself, or truth, this movie is for you. "What's so funny bout Peace, Love, and Understanding""
Clever, sarcastic portrayal of how life can downward spiral
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An offbeat movie with great one-liners that shows how when life starts to suck, it can spiral in on itself and slowly get worse, but nothing is completely unredemable and that things change. I started out doubting it but ended up really enjoying it."
Brian A. Jewell | Anchorage, AK | 01/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is absurd -- few would debate that. But wicked funny and inspiring in its holistic approach. It's hard to describe in a way, like what Louis Armstrong said about Jazz: "If you have to ask, you'll never know."
James LeGros plays John, whose life can't get any worse. He decides he's getting tired of it and pulls a final coup à la "Falling Down" (only with hilarious results and endearingly surprising fulfillment). His (mis)adventures are a slow-burn treat and the cameos (John Cusack/Ethan Hawkwe) are sublime."
Better than its reputation
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 02/12/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This sixties time-warped retro kind of "power to the people" nineties flick is mostly a procession of set pieces, some of which are not bad. The bit at the gun store with Billy Bob Thornton was superb. The crack philosophers scene was also very good. And the way "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?" was sung so badly was just perfectola. (Actually that's "What's So Bad about Peace, Love and Understanding?" but whatever...) And the way that big silver fish popped those gold fish...gulp!I think some of the negative comments about this movie ought to be greeted with a "Whoa, dudes--get a sense of humor." Or, "Don't be offended, man, it's only a movie." Or maybe, "Uh, the soundtrack is awesome, dude." (Oh, god, people really did talk like that!) The dream sequences fooled me at least twice. They were funny. Funniest line: when the trash lady pulls her rifle out of her cart and says "Vive la Revolution!" Second funniest line: "What kind of music do you want to hear?" "The farm report."Okay, this was no masterpiece, and any episodic movie sans plot is not going to rival The Godfather at IMDb. And James LeGros ain't no Marlon Brando. And if you've ever been to Venice Beach...well, you know it's a freak show. But I think director and screen writer Peter McCarthy did a nice job of bringing that slacker street scene to life. I think the big mistake was to headline actors like Steve Buscemi, John Cusack, Ethan Hawke, and Billy Bob Thornton when they only had cameos. That should have been made clear up front. And there was more than a touch of the kind of sixties moral pretension that we've all grown a little tired of. But bottom line for me, this was a funny movie."
Not Bad for an Indie Film
Lisa Shea | 10/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's important to understand right up front that Floundering is a small budget film, and while it tries to promote its "big names", these actors only had cameo roles. So you get short little clips of Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, John Cusack, Ethan Hawke, Billy Bob Thornton, and others. This means the acting, like the dialogue, is a bit roller-coastery. Sometimes it really is awesome, but other times you wince at acting that just never would have made it on screen in any other regular film.
Still, you accept that for what it is. Not all movies are made by the big houses, nor should they be. When you watch the credits roll and see the entire cast singing a song together about peace and love, you realize what this really was. It was a gut reaction by many actors to the LA riots. It was a way for them to express their anger and outrage and confusion about everything that went on. For example, Viggo had starred in a movie a few years before this, and the next movie he did was one of my favorites - American Yakuza. And yet in this film he has maybe 3 lines, all of them mumbled. He's the homeless man that the lead character gives his apartment away to in the last 30 seconds of the movie. You bet Viggo didn't do this movie for that screentime or paycheck. He did it - like many of the other actors - as a way to get this message out there.
The premise is pretty simple. A confused 30-something guy is meandering his way through life. He doesn't have a job, he owes back taxes. He has pet goldfish which he feeds to his pet predator fish. He's the "nice guy" who won't date the girl who is smart and likes him, but is in love with a girl who doesn't respect him and sleeps around. He keeps giving money to a drug addict and lets people walk on him. He becomes obsessed with the LA riots - why were all those people so upset? Why did the police "do nothing"? Why don't all the rich people just give up 90% of their income and "solve the problems"?
I can see why many people felt that the discussions were simplistic and stereotypical. Many if not most of the characters themselves here were stereotypical. The downtrodden poor woman supporting a child. The rich egomaniac who hates poor people. The police chief out solely for personal power.
It's easy to say "the movie should have had more depth, addressed the issues with more complexity." However, in life there are audiences of different levels. It's like the Matrix. A portion of viewers saw that and said "That's basic philosophy, about how you sense your world. I knew about that." Then another big portion of the viewers saw that and said "WOAH! That's a cool idea, I never heard about that before!" That second portion wouldn't have gone to see an in depth, complex movie about the topic. They would see this simple version involving fun sci-fi themes. So you start somewhere, to get the discussion going. Then people can understand the more complex versions.
Even understanding that dynamic, I'm not sure I liked the way the movie ended. The lead guy finally realizes that he should do something, get his life into gear, and that a woman he's met is actually right for him. She's off in Vegas for the weekend. He's just gotten a block of money from an old friend. So he portions part off to help his druggie friend in rehab. That's great. Then he spends the rest on *loaves of bread* to give out to people. Ever hear that story about "feed a man for a day"? There are soup kitchens already feeding people. There was a whole storyline about a recycling woman who could have her own business - and also complaints about rich people not funding inner city business. Why didn't *he* set up this money as a micro-loan program? That's be pretty easy, and it is *hugely* helpful in many poor areas, to help small businesses get the small but vital start-up funds they need. Or heck, a scholarship fund? Something other than the "throw bread out for a day" solution. Then he runs away to Vegas. Which again seems quite the opposite of what people should do. Why not end with him calling his lady love, asking her to come back to him, to LA? Heck, he abandons his only pet! It just left me with a "this is the moral?" feeling, after the movie had been relatively heavy-handed in its simplistic good-evil statements.
Still, it's worth a watch, if only to remind us just what the LA riots were like and how it affected many people in this area."