The Stages of Becoming a Man
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"MANHOOD is a film produced for television by Showtime, a resource that usually can be counted on to produce edgy interesting films about a wide variety of subjects, topics that wouldn't normally make it in the Hollywood arena. And MANHHOD is no exception. Written and directed by Bobby Scott, this is a follow-up (or should we dare call if a sequel?) to his JACK THE DOG, a film about a man with sexual addiction that incidentally used some of the same cast members as in the present continuation of Jack's story.
Jack (Nestor Carbonell) is now separated from his wife and has struggled to maintain guardianship of his son Sam (Andrew J. Ferchland) despite his history of being a womanizer. He sees his therapist Alice (Bonnie Bedelia) regularly and has found a new stability in his father-son life, supporting his little family unit by being a photographer. Jack has a sister Jill (Janeane Garofalo) who, born with a congenital hip problem that required many surgeries and still makes her walk with a limp, has turned to drug abuse. She is married to a complete loser Eli (John Ritter in his last role before his untimely death) and, out of desperation to escape from her odious reality, asks Jack to care for her edgy quasi-delinquent son Charlie (Nick Roth).
Jack accepts the challenge only to find that Eli is homeless and begs to move in with Sam also. With his new family unit of four men at various degrees of maladjustment, Jack soon sees Sam identifying with Charlie (drugs, piercing, sex etc) and when he is unable to convince Eli that he must find a job, he lays down the law and forces Eli to move. Charlie's reaction to this is one of repeated desertion. His mother Jill is unavailable to him, as she has become addicted to the internet dating complex, fearful of her rejection of men on a face-to-face encounter.
An incredible tragedy occurs, witnessed by Jack and Sam and Charlie and this tragedy quietly brings the story to an end solely by showing the importance of bonding among men, whether father, son, nephew, etc.
The cast is well chosen and includes minor roles for Tom Arnold, Barry Newman, Anthony LaPaglia and others. Though the story line gets muddled here and there by lack of focus or lack of judicious editing, the premise is good and the acting is first rate. Not a great film (and a rather confusing follow-up to JACK THE DOG without tending to the questions of how Jack faced his addiction and turned into the Jack of this movie), but there are some excellent character studies here, especially as performed by John Ritter in one his more serious roles. Grady Harp, March 2005"
A Cut Above
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 01/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I know this was not the greatest film in the world, I found the ending brought tears to my eyes. I felt the film's impact. Bobby Roth who has been directing episodes of "Prison Break" & "Without a Trace" for TV won the President's Award for Best American Indie at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival for "Manhood." Nestor Carbonell, who was on "Suddenly Susan" and now stars on TV's "Cane," plays Jack, a fashion photographer who has given up chronic womanizing in order to make a home for he and his son. Andrew J. Ferchland who played on episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on TV creates Sam, a teenager trying to please his dad when his rebellious cousin moves in. Jack's sister Jill (Jack & Jill -- get it?) is played by Janeane Garofalo. She has been in a number of films including Wonderland & "The Cable Guy." She drops off her son Charlie played by Nick Roth so she can get her head together as her marriage breaks up. Nick Roth is director Bobby Roth's real-life son. The younger Roth starred two years later in the film "Berkeley" with Bonnie Bedelia who plays Jack's therapist Alice in this film. As Charlie, Roth does an excellent job as the stormy, maladjusted, goth cousin. This film will probably be best remembered as John Ritter's last. Ritter won the Golden Globe in 1983 as Best Actor for TV's "Three's Company." As Eli, he plays the guy we want to like, but who is just a bit too sleazy. The ending came as a surprise to me and left me moaning, "No, no, no." That is why I think this is a cut above average, a worthwhile viewing experience. Enjoy!"