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Frankie and Johnny Are Married
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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The Play's the Fling

Author: nataloff from Los Angeles
21 June 2004

An absolutely fearless enterprise by all involved, "Frankie & Johnnie Are Married" is the ultimate actor's nightmare: not only that the curtain goes up and you're naked and you don't know your lines, but that the entire production is collapsing around you...and you're still naked.

Writer-Director Michael Pressman expertly brings each scene right to the brink and then expertly pulls it back from the abyss, thanks to his co-star (and real-life wife) Lisa Chess and their gutsy co-star Alan Rosenberg. In particular (ask anybody who's tried this), they've worked through how to a) act natural; b) act like they're acting; and c) blur the line in all the right places.

This is a hoot for anybody who's ever done Equity waiver theatre, low-budget movies, or worked with their relatives and friends -- and Pressman, Chess, and Rosenberg have the gall to do all three at once.

For those who enjoyed "Waiting for Guffman" and "Noises Off," this splendidly warm, sharply funny, but somehow intimate and upbeat comedy-drama is a perfect example of why everybody loves show biz -- and hates it -- at the same time.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful film about staying real, human, and loving in the face of life's unexpected challenges

Author: David Steinberg ( from California
28 May 2004

This is a wonderful film about staying real, human, and loving in the face of life's unexpected challenges. It's also an amusing, tender, non-sappy, very human- scale, look at the emotional turmoil of rehearsing and staging a live theater production on a small budget. Lisa Chess and Michael Pressman bring warmth and genuine heart to this fictionalized true story, playing themselves as actress and director of a stage production of Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune that turns into an unmitigated disaster. Alan Rosenberg is brilliant as the renegade actor who subverts the entire production.

One sub-plot -- what is it like for a man to direct his attractive wife doing nude sex scenes with an actor who has the real-life hots for her and doesn't believe in following the rules -- is particularly intriguing. The film opens in very limited distribution in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco in June. Catch it while you can.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Moonlight sonata

Author: jotix100 from New York
9 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Pressman, a man that has directed a lot of television, suddenly gets an idea: How about do a play as a vehicle for his wife, the talented Lisa Chess, who in a way, has sacrificed her own career to dedicate herself to keep the couple's home and bring up the son that both adore. The play Michael decides to do is Terrence McNally's "Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune", a work that seems to be perfect. That's where the problems start. Having received an IRS refund, Mr. Pressman thinks he can invest that money into a modest production. Little does he know that what starts as a fun incursion into the theater, ends up costing four times as first envisioned.

First thing that goes wrong is the casting of Alan Rosenberg as Johnnie. This actor is involved in an indie picture, plus a series in television. It's clear he is an actor that has "disaster" written all over him. When they begin reading the play, it becomes clear that Alan wants to improvise. After that, he has trouble remembering his lines and finally, his ego gets the best of him and he decides the play is not for him, leaving Michael and Lisa hanging and in debt.

After the fiasco he experienced, Michael decides to play Johnnie himself. The play will finally is seen. In a hilarious sequence, Cynthia, the company manager, is seen at the box office trying to deal with the invited crowd on opening night. Kathy Baker, the actress, who has four tickets waiting, gives her name, but Cynthia looks under Bates, as in Kathy, who happens to be the one that played Frankie in the New York production. A few other familiar faces are seen as well. Jilian Armenante does a fine job with her Cynthia.

Best of all in the film is Alan Rosenberg, whose own take on what the actor he is supposed to play, must be a composite of other actors he, and Mr. Pressman have met during their years in show business. Lisa Chess is wonderful as Frankie. She is a beautiful woman who should be seen more often. Michael Pressman, playing himself, gives the right tone to a director that lives to regret his involvement in the theater. Others that appear briefly are, Mandy Patinkin, Stephen Tobolowsky, Leslie Moonves, David Kelley, and Hector Elizondo, among others.

The film is fun and light, as it satirizes people who think too much of themselves. Michael Pressman has a keen eye for spotting all these people.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Loved the Film

Author: mjhm from Los Angeles
13 June 2004

We loved this movie. It maintained its heart while expressing the frustration with the realities of the creative process and creative people. In contrast with many films about the entertainment business it accomplishes all this without a hint of cynicism.

Michael Pressman was endearing playing himself -- trying against all odds to be a supportive husband. Lisa Chess, also playing herself, was wonderful --

especially in the scenes with Alan Rosenberg. Their acting exercises and "creative differences" were hysterical. Alan Rosenberg plays the "I'm as good as Pacino" role to the hilt, and Jillian Armenante was also very funny as the inept producer.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Two people put on a play

Author: ( from Los Angeles, California
10 April 2004

This is an excellent film and Alan Rosenberg's performance is spectacular.

There are many good cameo's and it is one of the funniest movies ever. More people should go out and see this movie. Michael Pressman is great as is his wife. I want to go see it again. Their is many bad words. The story is touching and everything is spectacular. The real standout is Alan Rosenberg again. If you wish to see more of him go watch the guardian on cbs on tuesday at 9. Forget 24 and everything else. This movie deserves oscars and a best actor award for Alan Rosenberg. He kicks butt. Let me restate my thesis, this is a great movie, it has great acting, and a great story, and great everything. I really suggest to go out and see this movie.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Forget Million Dollar Epics, See This Film!

Author: technicaldifficulties from Los Angeles, CA
13 April 2004

Of all the films I saw at the AFI Film Festival, this is the one I've been telling everyone they should run out and see. It's the true story of what happens when a Hollywood director/producer decides to put on an equity-waiver play: things go WRONG. It's filled with great performances from writer/director/actor Michael Pressman and his real-life wife Lisa Chess, and Alan Rosenberg chews up every scene he's in with his gruff charm and caustic behavior. The supporting cast is fantastic as well, and the cameos were hilarious. You don't have to be a Hollywood insider to appreciate the humor and drama of "Frankie and Johnny Are Married". My question is: when is this film coming out? Someone HAS to pick this up for distribution!

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