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The Real Howard Spitz (1998)

 -  Comedy  -  28 August 1998 (UK)
5.7
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 251 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 5 critic

Howard Spitz is a cranky, has-been detective novelist out of money and out of luck - until he meets eight-year-old Samantha, who convinces him he has what it takes to write children's books.

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Title: The Real Howard Spitz (1998)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Genevieve Tessier ...
Samantha Kershaw
Joseph Rutten ...
Lou
...
Laura Kershaw
Kay Tremblay ...
Theodora Winkle
...
Roger
Lex Gigeroff ...
Ronnie Relish
...
Red Allen
Jeffrey Hirschfield ...
Lawrence - Primrose Rep (as Jeff Hirschfield)
Denny Doherty ...
Balthazar Mishkin
Joanne Hagen ...
Waitress
Edward Gregson ...
Aaron
Ciel Crosby ...
Librarian (as Cathy Lee Crosby)
John Loverin ...
Bartender - Cop Bar
John Fulton ...
Ted the Cop
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Storyline

Howard Spitz is a cranky, has-been detective novelist out of money and out of luck - until he meets eight-year-old Samantha, who convinces him he has what it takes to write children's books.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

28 August 1998 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Writer's Block  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Howard Spitz, played by Kelsey Grammer, says, "Writing a sitcom's not hard. You just have a married couple, a bar in Boston or a psychiatrist on the radio." This is a reference to both Cheers (1982) and Frasier (1993), both of which starred Grammer as Dr Frasier Crane, a psychiatrist who hung out at a Boston bar on "Cheers" before moving to Seattle to start a radio call in show in "Frasier". See more »

Connections

References Frasier (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

A very uneven film that just about has enough going for it to make it worth a look
25 May 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Howard Spitz is a writer of gritty detective thrillers; problem is more people have been on the moon than actually buy his books and the debts are piling up. Bitter and angry, he has a revelation when he meets Theodora Winkle – an author of children's books who sells millions of simple books at $9 each. Spitz cannot believe it could be so simple to print cash and decides to bash out a book about "Crafty Cow", get it printed and watch the money roll in. Reading books in the kids section of the library, he meets Samantha Kershaw who tells him all kids love the books and off he goes. However when his first draft is a gritty detective thriller featuring a dead cow he returns to the library and asks for Samantha's help in writing the book. In return he tells her he will look for her father – who left Sam's mother before she was born. Everything is simple until he finds out that he will have to meet the children his books sell to.

Late one night in the UK, this film was screened on terrestrial television and several of the top reviewers on IMDb settled down to watch it – namely MovieCritic and Theo; what was this classic you ask? Well "The Real Howard Spitz". And what a rather uneven affair it is too, in many regards. When you look at the basic premise it sounds good and parts of the film are funny and enjoyable; but the plot is cluttered with some ideas that don't work as well as others and it makes the film feel rather messy and full of as many good moments as average/weak moments. Generally it is enjoyable but it is a very uneven film that requires you to be a bit forgiving and undemanding. The direction strangely matches this feel; mostly it is straightforward but it also throws in lots of strange angles and uses weird lenses occasionally – it doesn't take a great deal away from the film but it doesn't add anything either (although some of the camera work was pretty cool). Also, as others have seen, the use of music was strange as well.

The performances are mixed. Personally I thought Grammar was pretty good – a nice step away from his usual Fraiser character but yet still with a similar dark wit to him that works. Donohue could have been anybody and was unmemorable. Tessier was pretty much an annoyingly cute kid but what makes her performance good is that her and Grammar have chemistry and go together pretty well. The support cast are so-so, not making a great impression at any point without really being "bad"; but the film is Grammar's and I enjoyed him.

Overall this is a mixed and uneven affair that just about did enough to entertain me. The ideas are mostly good but the scattergun feel to it doesn't help it work and it really could have done with being tighter and more fully developed. It is quite funny, quite interesting and quite engaging – not great, but distracting and different enough to be worth seeing.


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