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Chaos unfolds as Tom is roped into being a pallbearer (and delivering the eulogy!) by the mother of a recently deceased "friend" from high school that he just can't remember. In the meantime, an unrequited love from high school (NOT the dead guy's girlfriend) reappears in his life. Written by
'The Pallbearer' is a somewhat inoffensive film which most people could either take or leave. The film was Schwimmer's first attempt at non-'Friends' success but it bombed terribly at the box office and as a result remains unusual and unique in that so far it is his only attempt to carry a picture. I'm hesitant to call a it a star vehicle because it also features Gwenyth Paltrow but that is essentially what it is, or at least tries/was meant to be.
I actually like this movie but I would have found it ultimately forgettable if it hadn't been constantly shown on one of the more obscure digital TV channels late at night just as I was coming in from work for a 6 month period a few years back.
It has a good and recognisable cast which will put an audience at ease. Rappaport is as usual very funny and Schwimmer plays a very 'Ross'-esque character, given a ridiculous hair cut so that we can obviously differentiate from his 'Friends' persona. Paltrow looks cute and does what she does best.....pouts a lot.
The plot itself centres around Schwimmer's character attempting to negotiate a relationship beyond friendship with his high school crush (Paltrow) who he has not been in contact with for years, presumably as he has only recently returned from completing his college studies. This is somewhat hindered though as he has also become intimately involved with the grieving mother of a recently deceased local man played by Barabra Hershey who believes, wrongly, that Schwimmer's character was her departed son's best , and for that matter only, friend at high school. As he is looking for some excitement in life Scwimmer's character was more than willing to maintain this incorrect assumption in order to bed the vulnerable Hershey character but after peddling the deception to the point where he delivers the eulogy at her son's funeral (at which he is also a Pallbearer hence the film's title) guilt begins to catch up with him and the 'Graduate'-esqu style of excitement he had previously felt is replaced by regret. There is also the underlying feeling to which many can probably relate of a post graduate who is struggling to move on with his life. This of course summons further comparisons with the earlier mentioned 'Graduate' from which this picture obviously draws major though not overly obvious influences.Tom Thompson (Schwimmer) has achieved an architectural degree but is struggling to find employment in the field and is back living in his old bedroom at his mother's house which looks , and where he is treated, like he is still at high school. To make matters worse his friends who live near by are all in 9-5 jobs and have all moved on with their lives to the point they are either married or engaged and are considering starting families. The relationship with Hershey seems to give a feeling of maturity whilst the reemergence of Paltrow has allowed him to recall happier and simpler times in his life where he wasn't under so much pressure to grow up.
The story itself can be viewed as simplistic and not very exciting but it was matched by the slow pace. I myself actually appreciated it but maybe thats because I found relevance to my own life. Either way the audience can get some enjoyment out of the actor's performances and some sharp dialogue and set pieces. There are also some nice directorial touches though the film is not what you would call stylistic or a talky for that matter.
Shwimmer's dead-pan comedic tone and facial expressions worked as well here as they do in 'Friends'. I felt he was just right for the role and enjoyed his performance. Though I accept that he is not to everyone's taste and for that reason many people will probably not enjoy this movie. Being a Shwimmer fan here is not a necessity but it certainly helps.
On the whole this is the kind of film which works well at entertaining in a kind of personal way and in a subdued setting IE.- late at night in your living room with nothing else on or perhaps a rainy Saturday afternoon. It would have been an extremely unsatisfying cinematic event though and that is probably where most of the bad press for it comes from.
Definitely not perfect but none the less a decent film which is made all the more worth while if you approach it with low expectations like I did.
The underlying theme is about facing up to the difficulty of that crossroads in life when we realise that perhaps its time to move on from being a carefree youth to a mature adult. If that interests you then I guess this movie you will appreciate.
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