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1 item from 2000


Film reviews: 'Everything's Jake'

20 March 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Everything's half-baked in this movie about a noble homeless man. Starring Ernie Hudson as the stoic lead with many friends and fellow vagabonds to keep track of, "Everything's Jake" bowed at the Santa Barbara (Calif.) International Film Festival and played like gangbusters with many in the audience.

Prospects are bleak for a big theatrical happening around the debut film of director Matthew Miele, who co-wrote and co-produced the low-budget indie with Christopher Fetchko. It's up-front and always apparent mission to bring cheer to general audiences will earn the approval of some critics and audiences, but it's likely to find its biggest success on cable.

Jake (Hudson) lives on the streets of New York by choice. In the opening, he calls the entire city his home, and with the help of the first of several montages to popular music, the viewer is meant to be swept along in the grubby romanticism of the concept. "Everyone stares, but nobody cares" is the discouraging reality Jake has to deal with, but with a support network and comfortably residing at the "bottom of it all," he's arguably the Happiest Miserable.

He's even more psyched when a down-and-out former professor, Cameron (Graeme Malcolm), reluctantly becomes his friend and teaches Jake a better way to play the bongos. In between trips to the library, where he fends off the grouchy, fey assistant (Stephen Furst) and chats up the pushover-for-a-bookworm librarian (Debbie Allen), Jake plays for money on the subway and sidewalks.

With a stash of cash kept safe by one of his many intimates who have jobs and homes -- including security guards, priests, taxi drivers -- Jake makes the rounds, reads the classics, plays chess, dines on garbage and scams a little money from dog walkers by picking up fresh poop and then demanding a fee to dispose of it.

To summarize the further adventures of Jake, once he's shown "Tarzan" Cameron -- who sleeps in a tree in the park -- the ropes and they've dreamed about having a "homeless parade," even getting a ridiculously restrictive permit, things get complicated. A major plot twist sends the film off on an unconvincing tangent that seriously disrupts the lead's idyllic life and overtaxes the filmmakers' abilities to make us see why this is so horrible.

By treading boldly into a milieu that resists glamorizing -- peopling it with Hollywood actors working out simplistic conflicts, hoping that excessively literal and chatty voice-overs will numb the viewer into accepting the watered-down version of life on the streets, and using famous tunes by Bob Dylan and others -- Miele and Fetchko run roughshod over the material and leave credibility behind in the first few moments.

Singer Lou Rawls has a couple of scenes as a concerned Hot Dog vender. Lou Myers (NBC's "A Different world") plays one of Jake's best but expendable friends. Willis Burks II as the lead's chess partner fares better. Robin Givens shows up near the end as a conscienceless publisher. Doug E. Doug, Joyce Randolph and Phyllis Diller all make brief and forgettable appearances.

EVERYTHING'S JAKE

Blackjack Entertainment

A Christopher Fetchko production in association

with Boz Prods., Mirador Pictures, mad.house inc.

Director:Matthew Miele

Screenwriters-producers:Matthew Miele, Christopher Fetchko

Executive producer:Bo Zenga

Director of photography:Anthony Jannelli

Production designer:John Henry

Editor:Noelle Webb

Costume designer:Martha Gretsch

Casting:Judy Keller

Color/stereo

Cast:

Jake:Ernie Hudson

Cameron:Graeme Malcolm

Librarian:Debbie Allen

Abe:Lou Myers

Publisher:Robin Givens

Colonel:Willis Burks II

Assistant librarian:Stephen Furst

Running time -- 91 minutes

No MPAA rating

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