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The Pallbearer
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Pallbearer More at IMDbPro »

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Index 54 reviews in total 

24 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Delicate soufflé of comedy and melancholy

9/10
Author: budikavlan from Irving, TX
17 November 2003

The tone of this film is really difficult to convey on paper. It manages to successfully capture the elusive appeal that David Schwimmer has from time to time; it's easy for his sad-sack personality to grow annoying and pathetic, but this script managed to walk that line. The scenes of embarrassment and shame never seem overdone or cheap, and serve the story well. I especially like the down-to-earth, realistic beauty that Gwyneth Paltrow always brings to a role; she never seems like a movie star playing a real person. Because of Schwimmer's brief tenure as a star with buzz, this was seen as a box office failure, but it was never the kind of movie likely to rake in huge bucks. For what it is, a small, thoughtful, offbeat romantic comedy, The Pallbearer is a winner.

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Often overlooked, but delightful film

7/10
Author: (rpbauer@hotmail.com) from United States
23 May 2005

Maybe it was the great, eclectic soundtrack with the likes of Django Reinhardt, Herbie Hancock, Perry Como, Curtis Mayfield, Neil Young and Richie Havens, or maybe it was the dark and subtle bits of humor that pleasantly surprised me throughout the movie, but I really enjoyed this one.

We meet Tom, a forlorn twenty-something man-child still living at home and struggling to take control of his life, played by David Schwimmer of "Friends" fame. Tom gets a call from a woman who mistakenly believes he knew her recently deceased son. He goes along with it, presumably to save her the added grief of knowing her son had no close friends. Of course, Tom's accommodating nature backfires and he's asked to give the eulogy for a man he never knew. This sets up a scene with the kind of dark humor seen throughout the movie that audiences are either delighted with or immediately turned off by.

At the funeral, Tom meets Julie, his unrequited high school crush, played with genuine emotion and winsome grace by Gwyneth Paltrow. Thus begins two relationships that play out over the duration of the film --one with Grace, the bereft mother of the friend Tom never had, played by Barbara Hershey, and the other with Julie.

Yes, this movie owes much, in terms of plot and characters, to "The Graduate," with Hershey playing the counterpart to Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson. But it turns out to be much more than just an update of the '60s classic. The audience really gets to know the inner turmoil both Tom and Julie are going through -- Tom, both for the guilt of becoming unwittingly involved with Grace, and for also being involved with Julie at the same time, and Julie, for being torn between striking out on her own to escape her overbearing parents and getting into a deep relationship with Tom.

There are a couple of sideplots going on with Tom's friends -- Michael Rapaport's character getting married to a woman his friends don't like, and Michael Vardan's married character, making a move on Julie, which obviously infuriates Tom. And Carol Kane as Tom's mom, is precious. In one scene, he is livid after she bursts into his room unannounced. After she receives a brief scolding for not knocking, she replies "I only wanted to see if you wanted some ice cream," to which he replies "A little."

Schwimmer nails the role, with his underplayed, tacit sadness about his so-far-failed attempt at making a responsible life for himself. And Paltrow, well, can she ever miss? Whether for the dark humor, spot-on acting, or superb soundtrack, this one is definitely worth a viewing.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Simple, but nice

6/10
Author: rbverhoef (rbverhoef@hotmail.com) from The Hague, Netherlands
16 February 2003

The Pallbearer will be compared with The Graduate. A graduate (Tom, played by David Schwimmer), only one year later, has an affair with an older woman. She is the mother of a dead guy named Bill. Tom did not know Bill but the mother thinks he was his best friend. He plays along. The affair starts but Tom is really in love with a younger girl named Julie (Gwyneth Paltrow). So far this is a lot like The Graduate and in my opinion this wasn't a good part of the movie although it had its funny scenes.

The comparison with The Graduate holds on in the main plot-line may be, but The Pallbearer takes a different way in the way it is shown to us. I liked how the movie developed from that moment on. Especially the ending is well-chosen.

David Schwimmer was a better lead than I expected, he wasn't that bad. Most funny scenes were happening because of him. Gwyneth Paltrow was lovely and for me she made sure I liked the movie a little more. It is not very good but it has a couple of good laughs, a nice story and a nice chemistry between Schwimmer and Paltrow.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not bad

Author: guilfisher-1 from New York City
12 January 2007

This 1996 flick was directed and co-written by Matt Reeves along with Jason Katims. A sort of serious romantic comedy. I loved Barbara Hershey in this. She never disappoints. Playing the mother of a son she lost, she turns to companionship to help heal the loss. David Schwimmer, Ross in FRIENDS, helps her out. Schwimmer does an admirable job as a young man, almost a virgin in relationships.

Then he meets the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and sparks begin to fly. So, the plot thickens when he's up against the two ladies in his life. Add another lady, Carol Kane, his mother, who does a brilliant job as she fawns over her son. She's a riot and brings what little comedy there is to the movie.

Friends to Schwimmer are played by Michael Rapaport as a groom to be, with advice for his friend, and Michael Vartan, who I have liked since THE NEXT BEST THING. They both add much to this movie.

Not really a comedy, as the acting is quite real and often touching, but enjoyable to watch the two stars in the leads and an excellent supporting cast.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very good film that has been incorrectly advertised as a light-hearted comedy

8/10
Author: mt0804 from United States
12 December 2005

The DVD cover to this film describes it as "wildly entertaining." I find this characterization "wildly" inappropriate. Although it does have its comedic moments at the beginning (the funeral scenes are reminiscent of "The Big Chill" and the "Chuckles the Clown" episode of "Mary Tyler Moore, the film smoothly evolves into a poignant story of Tom Thompson's(Schwimmer)search for the meaning of his life. He is hindered in part by his inability to get past an unrequited love in high school (played by Paltrow). Schwimmers's body language is so in tune to the emptiness of his character. His journey reminds me, once again of another film - Benjamin Braddock in "The Graduate. Tom has three friends who give the appearance of having figured things out, but demonstrate their own frailties before the film is done. Barbara Hershey, in the role of the mother of the deceased, initially earns no sympathy, but by end of the film, there is more understanding, of if not empathy her character. (By the way, I mean no criticism in comparing this film or its characters to other film.)

Don't see this film if you're looking for a light-hearted comedy. It's not "Friends" or "Shallow Hall." It's a thoughtful film with an especially sweet performance by David Schwimmer.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

i liked it

6/10
Author: dsklodginski from home of the Alamo
9 July 2003

I wasn't sure what to expect about this movie. I remembered that it was a "bomb" when it appeared in theatres so I kept passing it by at the video store. It's often out but I'm glad that I took the time to watch it. I thought the characters were appealing & the situations they found themselves in rang true. A 25 year old floundering around, messing up with his friends was fitting. David Schwimmer isn't my favorite but the movie played to his strengths, and you can see that Gwyneth is due to break out as a star plus the rest of the cast is solid. I am especially glad that I didn't read the comments until I saw the movie. I see the negative points but if you approach the movie as a quirky romantic comedy with a dark twist you will be entertained & laugh & smile some too.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Funny, Good Acting and Pleasant -OK-

Author: David Walker Stevens (dsteve15@earthlink.net) from Baton Rouge, LA, USA
19 August 2000

Although I am watching this movie at this moment I am certain it is stable enough to comment on. The film is somewhat of a parody on relationships and relationship movies. The acting, scenes and writing are quite good. At some times this movie makes points, however it is mostly a silly movie to be enjoyed. More a movie to mellow on, it would be best to rent other films and use this film in between blockbusters. Pleasant would best describe this film with easy music and nice scenes and lots of scene changes it carries well. Somewhat nostalgic in feeling. A special mix here is the good fortune of Tom Thompson (David Schwimmer) that his actions are always amplified as altruistic. Be sure not to expect this to be the "everything, drivemecrazy" film because it is not, yet in this film everything plays off of Tom who as all fabled heroes may have his troubles when others realize his true actions. Some sexual content with very little violence.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very Watchable.

7/10
Author: wayofthecass from Glasgow
13 January 2008

'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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A film the US does well

7/10
Author: imspartacus1 from United Kingdom
13 February 2009

I watched this film for the 1st time last night and immediately thought, "how did I miss this one". The obscurity of the film was even mirrored by the fact that it doesn't even show in my timeout encyclopedia. Not being a huge "Friends" fan I used to be a little sceptical of Schwimmers talents but after seeing this film I must say that he's growing on me.

This is the type of film that I love to see Americans making. It reminded me of "Sideways" and "Nobody's fool". Great lines executed by a good cast. Hershey is very sexy and I wanted Tom to choose her over Paltrow, I know I would of.

I laughed a fair few times and would probably watch this again in a couple of years time on a rainy Yorkshire afternoon.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Nice Boy Nightmare

6/10
Author: Shaolin_Apu from Seinäjoki, Finland
3 June 2007

Pallbearer is a story about a guy who has not gained anything in his life and his future does not look promising either. Well, he is healthy and sane but incredibly unfortunate because he has probably been a too kind person: the life he was supposed to be living has slipped through his fingers. Turning now into latter part of his twenties he realizes that he's still a little boy and he should start doing something.

He will have a hopeless crush on a girl, and likewise a widow who has lost his son too will have a hopeless crush on him and that leads into a romance that is both tragic and comical. David Schwimmer makes a good performance as the guy who has to survive from many kinds of embarrassing situations, and Paltrow as the woman will do the standard Paltrow set. Nothing too surprising in the plot but the film is relatively good watching because of some well worked little scenes that faintly resemble Mr. Bean episodes.

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