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Donovan's Now You Know Review

Submitted by ryandonovan at 2002-05-22 00:04:45 EDT
Rating: 2.0 on 2 ratings (2 reviews) (Review this item) (V)

DONOVAN’S NOW YOU KNOW REVIEW

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Rashida Jones, Jeff Anderson
Directed By: Jeff Anderson
Written By: Jeff Anderson

I recently had the good fortune of attending an advanced screening of the kinda-romantic comedy Now You Know. The film is not yet in theaters, nor has it been screened for test audiences, but I was able to finagle an early viewing. You know, because I’m such a heavyweight Hollywood insider – smalltime Harry Knowles routinely laps at my nappy nadbag. I figured this gratis preview would be a way to get the inside scoop, and see a movie for free… but damn it all, the film was so good that I’m going to have to see it again and pay for it when it gets distributed.

I was optimistic going into the film. It was a tiny independent production, but it boasted a fairly impressive pedigree, especially for a View Askew fan like myself. The director/writer/star was Jeff Anderson, best known as the hysterical Randal from Kevin Smith’s rookie outing, Clerks. Smith himself had given his stamp of approval, giving the film its debut at his annual Vulgarthon film festival in New Jersey. Although the film wasn’t officially part of the Askewniverse, it had received rave reviews from Askewnifans at the festival (which is no easy feat; while initially loyal, one sign of a busted joke and that rare breed of discerning moviegoer will screw you faster than Charlie Sheen). But most impressive of all, I heard that the film featured Edie McClurg as a drunken lesbian.

Mrs. Poole rubbing lips and lips on lips and lips? No shit. Well sign me up!

So, I went into the film not wanting to force myself to like it… fortunately, I didn’t have to. But in the beginning, I wasn’t so sure. The film is hard to get into for the first half hour or so. It is rough around the edges; the dialogue is quick and humorous, but the ensemble doesn’t seem to be in step with it until after the first few scenes. In addition to that, there’s a grace period where the audience has to disassociate Anderson from Randal, which is not an easy thing to do. But it happens. The first couple scenes seem almost disjointed, and are a little difficult to get through, but a pair of bare (albeit nasty) breasts and a Kevin Smith cameo make it easier.

Right around the half hour mark, the film seems to just click. The characters hit their strides. The actors fall into a comfortable pace. The wit gets sharper. The plants pay off. The jokes get funnier and more natural. And there’s a bit of slyness to it; my favorite jokes were the ones that were subtle, rather than the ones that made me laugh out loud. Most of you idiots out there probably won’t pick up on those jokes the first time around. What surprised me the most was that it isn’t just a pure comedy. Yes, it is damn funny, but it also has some heart. It explores modern relationships and male bonding (not to mention a little male bondage). The humor itself provides a satisfying mix – plenty of wit, peppered with perversion, shock schlock, and as you might expect from Anderson, dick jokes.

The premise is fairly intriguing: What do you do when your bitch of a fiancée breaks off your engagement, and you have to return home and face the music (and your dirtbag friends)? What do you tell people, when you don’t even know yourself why she broke it off? Will your family, who’s just dumped a lot of money into the wedding, understand? Would it be cool to hang out with transvestites? Can you be consoled by your buddies, who have never mentally grown out of puberty? How do you regain the respect of her friends, when they automatically take her side? Is there a better setting for a movie than a lesbian bar? What do you do when you’ve grown so confident in your bond with someone that your comfort is seen as complacency and discontentment? Will you ever be able to talk to her again, considering communication was never your strong suit? Can you just figure out what the hell went wrong?

The cast is relatively impressive, considering how small the picture is. The film rides more or less on the shoulders of Jeremy Sisto, who plays the lead role as the nuptial rejectee. His performance very much determines whether you buy into the film or not. I had never been much of a Sisto fan, with his low, seemingly emotionless, monotone voice and frozen features. I didn’t find him memorable in Clueless, and it’s a pretty safe bet I’ll never see Hideaway or White Squall. But his stock has risen of late. His seldom-seen Suicide Kings was pretty stellar, and he scored some quality TV cred with his stint on my mother’s favorite show, Six Feet Under (then again, her previous favorite show was Father Dowling Mysteries, so take that for what it’s worth). Plus, he’s played Jesus, for Christ’s sake. It turns out that his understated style and dry delivery of humor and emotion in Now You Know is right on, and easy to identify with.

Did I mention Edie McClurg as a drunken lesbian? Her part is small, but unforgettable. Rashida Jones, best known for her role on Boston Public (and one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People 2002), plays the rejector. Her presence is strong enough to dodge the easy label of “diabolical hag”, mainly because you can easily imagine her as your best friend’s girlfriend that you totally want to have sex with. Multitasking Anderson (writer, director, actor) infuses much of the levity with his performance as one of Sisto’s immature friends, managing to avoid a “Clerks Doing Yard Work” shtick. Anderson’s partner in crime (literally), Trevor Fehrman, will likely emerge from the film as Most Memorable, as the developmentally-stunted-in-every-conceivable-way sidekick Biscuit. His character probably takes longest to come into its own, but he’s the one with the biggest payoffs in the second half. Heather Paige Kent sluts it up as Jones’s gal pal, aiming for a “Jersey trashy” look – and hits the mark dead on. Kent has spent years toiling as “Busty Friend” or “Chesty Bartender” on several failed TV shows (That’s Life, Stark Raving Mad, Jenny, Men Behaving Badly… need I continue?). Hopefully this movie is a sign of the good work she can do. Perhaps the film’s biggest treat is Paget Brewster (Andy Richter Controls The Universe) and her show-stealing scene as a potential bar pick-up.

Now that I know what a good film Now You Know is, I’ll have to check my Tinseltown power player ego, and see it again with you petty common folks. The comedy, story, and acting are outstanding, but that’s not why I’m going back. It’s little things, subtle things, things that are not obvious, that make me want to see the film again. AND it has Edie McClurg as a drunken lesbian. What more could you ask for?


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Submitted by Mister_Fahrenheit at 2004-04-18 21:45:52 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

Submitted by Random Joe at 2002-05-22 11:56:14 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

Nice review RD! Are you writing for Reader's Digest yet? I know, it's tough getting a job once you've worked at Hustler. KIDDING! Seriously, nice review, you might want to consider an online movie review hobby. You could be the next Knowles. I'll be looking for this movie, found the trailer at this site - www.lpfilms.com, looks pretty damn funny. Is it going to be at the Chicago film festival this summer?
-Twigs


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