A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Beautiful, sophisticated women are all over Oscar Grubman. He is sensitive and compassionate, speaks French fluently, is passionate about Voltaire, and thinks the feature that tells the most about a woman is her hands. On the train home from Chauncey Academy for the Thanksgiving weekend, Oscar confides in his best friend that he has plans for this vacation--he will win the heart of his true love. But there is one major problem--Oscar's true love is his stepmother Eve. Oscar is certain that he could be a better mate to Eve than his work-obsessed father. He fails to win Eve's heart and is consequently dejected. Oscar's path to his true love is further crossed by Diane, Eve's best friend who, one night while wearing Eve's borrowed perfumed scarf, offers him temporary comfort in an unconventional tryst. For Diane, Oscar fills a void in her life. For Oscar, Diane is somewhat of a distraction, as his continued pursuit of Eve leads to an unexpected resolution. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The café where the three ladies meet and Diane introduces Oscar to her friends was also the location where director Gary Winick arranged a meeting with Sigourney Weaver before production, to play the part of Eve. After Weaver spoke to the restaurant owner, they agreed to let them use it in the film. See more »
When Eve and Oscar are playing tennis, Oscar calls the score as "15-30", and then serves the ball to the left side of the court. It should have been served to the right side. See more »
Oscar Grubman (newcomer Aaron Stanford, who is really about 25 years old) is a precocious high school sophomore. *Really* precocious. He regularly speaks French in his normal life, and seems to always be reading Voltaire (the one liners seen throughout the film as inter-titles are apparently Voltaire quotes).
The film happens over a long Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. We first see Oscar on the train on his way home, briefly talking to a pretty classmate who seems interested in him. After she leaves, Oscar's friend Charlie (Robert Iler from "The Sopranos"), who may be the sanest character in the film, asks Oscar about her, and Oscar dismisses her by saying that her hands are those of a baby. Apparently he appreciates hands that show more character.
We soon learn that the hands he really likes belong to Eve (Sigourney Weaver). She's a medical researcher, whose marriage to Oscar's father, Stanley (John Ritter), makes her Oscar's stepmother. Oscar does not seem deterred by this little obstacle. I can see his point, as I am also a huge fan of Weaver's (even going so far as to see "Heartbreakers"), but the age difference is pretty extreme, not to mention that little almost incest issue.
Diane (Bebe Neuwirth from "Cheers"), is a chiropractor who is Eve's best friend. *You might want to skip the rest of this paragraph if you don't know much about the film already.* Oscar runs into Diane late at night after drinking too much, and when he smells Eve's perfume on a scarf Diane borrowed, Oscar "accidentally" ends up sleeping with her. This scenario is of course reminiscent of "The Graduate," although Oscar's age causes some to question whether this is comedy or statutory rape. I vote for the former, and in fact Oscar's inexplicable ability to easily be served alcohol in a neighborhood bar bothered me more.
Much comedy ensues. In fact, it occurred to me later that low budget independent films are rarely comedies, and even more rarely this well done. The writing was was only adequate to good, but the performances were very good, especially from Bebe Neuwirth. And some of the wordless reaction shots are priceless.
The film was shot on digital video and transferred to film for distribution to most theaters. I have read complaints about the quality, but it seemed tolerable to me, except perhaps in the opening shots from the train. What matters is that it is not distracting.
I enjoyed this film quite a bit. It isn't life altering in the slightest, but it isn't trying to be. It's definitely worth checking out.
Seen on 8/31/2002.
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