Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.
The Rizzos, a family who doesn't share their habits, aspirations, and careers with one another, find their delicate web of lies disturbed by the arrival of a young ex-con (Strait) brought ... See full summary »
Raymond De Felitta
Bill is unhappy: he has married a banker's daughter and has a dead end job at the bank; his wife Jess is tied to daddy's wallet; and, Bill is developing a gut from lack of exercise and constantly eating candy bars. He dreams of buying a donut franchise to be independent of Jess's dad. Bill is roped into a mentoring program at his old prep school, assigned a smart-mouthed kid who pops up when least expected. When Jess starts an affair with Chip, a local TV personality and vain Rob Lowe look-alike, it sends Bill, the kid, and a young sales clerk from a lingerie shop on a quest to win back Jess and get the donuts. What about self-respect? Written by
I attended the World Premiere of "Bill" at the Toronto International Film Festival. That fact alone is actually surprising to me, as my viewing habits tend to lean towards dramas, and this is anything but. In fact, festivals this year have been weighed down by heavy films that are about as dark as they come. "Bill" could not be more different, and what a refreshing change and much-needed uplift is this all-out, unabashed comedy. Co-directed by the husband-wife team of Bernie Goldmann and Melissa Wallack (who penned the script), "Bill" has all the elements required of the genre: characters to whom we can relate, a clever storyline, and laughs aplenty.
Aaron Eckhart ("Any Given Sunday," "Erin Brockovich," "Thank You for Smoking") is Bill, smack dab in the middle of a life becoming all-too familiar. His job is falling apart (he begrudgingly works for his irascible father-in-law), his marriage is going to pieces, his body is going to pot, and, perhaps most horrifying, his hair is rejecting his head. Bill needs a change, fast, and is not-so-voluntarily signed up for a mentoring program at the local high school. He is teamed up with young Logan Lerman ("The Butterfly Effect," "Hoot," "3:10 to Yuma"), who plays The Kid, literally (Lerman's character is never identified by name), and the two join together in battle to fight the demons at the heart of Bill's midlife crisis.
A magnificent ensemble cast including Elizabeth Banks, Timothy Olyphant, Jessica Alba, and Kristen Wiig (and far too many more to mention) are all up to the task of providing enough comedic fodder to fill several films. Discussing their characters in depth would be too revealing, and my policy is to allow the reader to find a synopsis elsewhere if desired. Ultimately the partnership between Bill and The Kid is what drives the story, and the chemistry between Eckhart and Lerman is central to the success of the film. And it works. The Kid is smart, streetwise, sexy (or so he thinks), and has the self-confidence of someone thrice his age. In short, he's everything Bill aspires to be. It's a role-reversal device that's at the heart of many classic comedies, and Wallack's brilliant writing makes it work.
Despite being an independent film (read: low budget) "Bill" has the look of a Hollywood movie. The design is bright and the sound and editing give it a crisp, bouncy feel. Best of all, the cinematography with Peter Lyons Collister at the helm is second to none. He's one of the best in the business, a classic comedy veteran, and it shows.
It's always hard to single anyone out in a fine ensemble cast but in both screenings I attended Lerman stole the show. He unquestionably got the biggest laughs and was the crowd favorite. I hesitate to call him a newcomer, as at the tender age of 15 he already has 10 movies and 23 television episodes under his belt, but he's one to watch for and has a bright career ahead of him. But this is Eckhart's film to make or break, and his sense of comedic timing and puppy-like ability to elicit just the right amount of empathy from the audience create those touching moments that leave the viewer wanting more. And so I attended the second screening as well, and enjoyed it even more. And that's the true test of a comedy. From this writer's perspective, "Bill" not only hits its mark but is also sure to be a winner for years to come.
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