Parallel Lives (TV Movie 1994) Poster

(1994 TV Movie)

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Beware! Improv at work...
Jordan-3618 May 2001
Improv is one of those wonderful acting tools that, in recent times, has grown to become painfully overrated and overused. While occasionally, a Robert De Niro or Harvey Keitel might be able to pull it off, improvisation is a tricky thing to make compelling and in the wrong hands, it can be painfully pretentious, dull, and trite. Parallel Lives is a film that was improved by the wrong hands.

Basically, the plot deals with a bunch of people gathering for a fraternity/sorority reunion. Secrets come out, subplot converge, and Treat Williams ends up getting murdered. Jack Klugman shows up as a senile Senator, Mira Sorvino gets to look sexy as hustler Ben Gazzara's blonde girlfriend, and Dudley Moore floats around as some bizarre fantasy creature. Oh, and Jim Belushi's there for some reason. Technically, he's the focus of the film's plot. Too bad that plot vanishes under a heap of acting exercises.

Apparently, director Linda Yellen specializes in making improvised films -- all featuring her all-star gallery of friends attempting to impress us with how witty and insightful they are. This film has an amazingly diverse cast

-- famous non-stars and has-beens continually wander through, creating the impression that the film was shot in a West Hollywood Unemployment agency. Along with those already mentioned, the film features everyone from Liza to Levar Burton to Ally Sheedy to Robert Wagner to a bunch of other actors no sane person would currently pay money to see. Imagine that, folks, 20 or so unimportant actors getting together to make one unimportant movie.

Its a pity that with such a huge cast, nobody apparently had anything to say.
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10/10
A strange but often wonderful stew with a terrific cast
Capboy22 September 1999
I really enjoyed this offbeat, meandering but usually always interesting experimental film, which was almost totally improvised by a dazzling cast. Standouts: Dudley Moore, Lindsay Crouse, and (I admit a bias) a beautifully modulated turn by Liza Minnelli, who deserved at least an Emmy nomination for this performance.
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