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A down-on-his-luck, divorced father works the night shift at an Atlantic City casino. When his relationship with his young daughters and ex-wife is jeopardized by a run-in with the law, he struggles to get his life - and family - back together before it's too late. A moving and humorous look at the limits of unconditional love and what defines a family. Written by
One of the perils of being known for a particular role is that its hard to shed that image. David Schwimmer, like the rest of the cast of "Friends" is not financially strapped for cash nor will he ever be. But as an actor, he's trying to break the mold of Ross Gellar (his character on "Friends") that he played for a decade. Of all the "Friends", Jennifer Aniston seems to have made the most out of the show though all of them have had their ups and downs. I'm leading up to something, bear with me here It was nice to see a major star like David Schwimmer in a very low-budget, independent film. Add to that the character he plays is the polar opposite of "Ross", it was a stretch for him and he did a good job with his role in "Duane Hopwood". The film was written and directed by Matt Mulhern, himself an actor most remembered for his roles in "One Crazy Summer" and "Biloxi Blues". What's most intriguing about the movie is that the director and stars are all mainly known for their comedic performances (Janeane Garofalo plays Hopwood's ex-wife).
"Duane Hopwood" isn't an easy movie to watch, any movie that deals with the problem of alcoholism is hit or miss. It's easy for actors to try and do too much in their "state" and try to ham it up for the cameras. Schwimmer takes the low road and lets us know that his character has a drinking problem, but doesn't feel the need to rub it in our faces. Duane Hopwood (David Schwimmer) is a casino pit boss at Caesar's Palace in Atlantic City. He's divorced and isn't too happy with his life. He gets pulled over for drunk driving with his daughter in the car and has his license revoked. His only means to get to work is via bicycle. Throughout the course of the movie, we see him try to rebuild his life trying to reconcile with his estranged wife (only to finally accept that she's moved on). Like most people with a drinking problem, Duane won't admit that he really has a problem yet it's evident to everyone else. His friend (and later roommate) Anthony (Judah Friedlander) is his inspiration. Anthony wants to be a stand up comedian and it angers Duane that he's following his dreams.
The real message in the movie is about starting over. I don't want to give away the ending, but movies about drunks can only end so many ways and most aren't too satisfying. I have to admit that I was pretty impressed by Janeane Garofalo's performance. She tends to play the same character in most every movie she's in and wit her bleached blonde locks, I hardly recognized her. And speaking of the cast, look for Dick Cavett in the small role of Fred another odd casting choice that seemed to work out. I don't know how personal this was to Matt Mulhern or if he's had problems with alcohol or substance abuse in the past, but as downtrodden as the script was; the performances were great and made the short running time spread out. As I mentioned before, the movie isn't easy to watch but it's quite rewarding.
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