1 item from 1998
The co-creator of "Seinfeld", Larry David, makes a mostly successful feature debut as writer and director of Columbia's "Sour Grapes".
Starring Steven Weber and Craig Bierko as quarreling cousins in a lively comic tale of greed, deception and surgical slips, the Castle Rock production is not destined for big premiums at the boxoffice, but it should ripen over time into a minor hit with young-adult viewers.
Set in New York, "Sour Grapes" gets off to a slow start but gains momentum when brain surgeon Evan Weber) joins cousin Richie (Bierko), a designer of sneaker soles, in a getaway to Atlantic City. Their girlfriends (Karen Silas, Robyn Peterman) come along and join in the celebration when Richie wins a $400,000 jackpot.
Evan is shocked when Richie makes a big show of giving him $1,000. He claims at least half the fortune because it was two of his quarters that Richie used to win. But the latter claims "it was my machine." And so begins a misunderstanding that has many hilarious developments, not the least of which is each guy's respective girlfriend taking the other guy's side.
The chemistry between non-aggressive Weber and manic Bierko is terrific as the situation deteriorates and sore loser Evan hatches a cruel scheme to give Richie a fright. Breaking every ethical code in the book, Evan tells Richie he has a fatal ailment.
From big winner to terminal case, Richie decides his kooky old mom (Viola Harris) won't be able to live alone and sends a homeless man to scare her to death. It almost works and she ends up in the hospital, while Richie finds out it's all a joke, giving him even less motivation to share the loot with Evan.
In a nutty subplot, Evan is talked into performing delicate surgery on a hot-shot sitcom actor (Matt Keeslar). In a slow meltdown over the situation with Richie, Evan makes a stupid mistake and is forced to remove both testicles of his victim, not just one as planned.
Bierko has the showier role and comes off as a classy Jim Carrey clone, while Weber is relatively conservative with just the right impish expressions to make his spiteful character one to care about.
Harris is a scene-stealer in her sequences, but one cannot say the same for Silas and Peterman, whose characters are relatively unimportant. David has solid writing skills and is good with the actors, but visually the movie is bland and the extensive use of familiar classical music becomes a distraction.
Castle Rock Entertainment
Writer-director: Larry David
Producer: Laurie Lennard
Executive producer: Barry Berg
Director of photography: Victor Hammer
Production designer: Charles Rosen
Editor: Priscilla Nido-Friendly
Costume designer: Debra McGuire
Evan: Steven Weber
Richie: Craig Bierko
Danny Pepper: Matt Keeslar
Joan: Karen Silas
Selma: Viola Harris
Roberta: Robyn Peterman
Running time -- 91 minutes
MPAA rating: R
1 item from 1998
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