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I watched this movie for a lot of reasons. I really like Sarah
Silverman and Michael C. Hall, plus I was looking for a comedy that
might offer a little something different. I guess on both fronts I got
what I was expecting, but it still felt like a hollow victory.
There's nothing really bad about this movie. The acting is done well and the pace is kept pretty good, but it always feels like something is missing and I still can't figure out what it would be. It seems to be one of the many comedies that tries to derive humor from awkward situations and subtle quirks in common situations. Though it's just a personal preference, that has always kind of bothered me. And the storyline of the horrendously dysfunctional family also feels a bit tired to be, especially as it's been done to much better effect.
But the film isn't without it's charms. They're just a little hard to notice. Honestly, I thought this movie delivered more on the drama aspects than the comedy and perhaps that's how it was supposed to play. But hey...at least it wasn't terrible. That's really about all the endorsement I'm willing to give it.
This movie about a dysfunctional family being torn apart by a book
published by the youngest member of the clan, Nathan, is a decent way
to spend an hour and twenty minutes.
Of course, with its TV-bred cast, (Judy Greer, Michael C. Hall, Rainn Wilson, & Sarah Silverman), narration and short length, this film comes off more like a middle episode of a sitcom. In itself it is not extremely satisfying, though it has some good moments both of humor and drama.
And that's important. The trailer may not make this seem like a movie with any dramatic weight, but it is. There are some funny moments, but the more dramatic ones overshadow those. This is a dramedy that is trying to market itself as comedy. That said, these actors handle the dramatic moments incredibly well, especially coming from such comedic backgrounds.
Don't expect this to be the film adaptation of Arrested Development some people are making this out to be; though it has some funny moments (really genuinely laughable things), it's not the laugh-riot you'd expect an Arrested Development movie to be.
So yeah, in a nutshell, this movie is a well-done (if but slightly average) dramatic movie with good comedic moments.
When a comedy comes along with a cast such as this one, I'm guessing
that people are under the impression that it's going to be a
rip-roaring laugh-fest -- complete with liquids coming out of orifices
and hee-hee-ing so hard you can't breathe. This isn't that kind of
movie. If you go into this movie expecting Dumb and Dumber, you are
going to be disappointed.
Lewis Black is the narrator and he tells the story of Henry Meyerwitz (Rifkin) and his family. They've all gathered together for his 70th birthday and it doesn't look to be a happy affair. Jack (Hall) is his oldest son. He's got a wife, Laura (Greer), who's pregnant. He's the everyman character and would appear to have it all together. Cheri (Silverman) is the artist who hasn't really decided what she wants to do in life, that is, until the book Peep World came out. She seeks solace in her friend, Ephraim (Tobolowsky) who is a Jews for Jesus nut that hopes to one day get in her pants. Joel (Wilson) is the family's renegade risk-taker who also takes anything else he wants: drugs, pills, advantage, money from other siblings. He has a girlfriend, Mary (Henson) who works as a bailiff. Then, there's Nathan (Schwartz). He's written a very popular book entitled Peep World. It's about a dysfunctional family and his brothers and sisters seem to think it's a bit too on-the-nose for fiction. He has a legitimate reason for not wanting to go to the party tonight -- he'll have to face them for the first time since the book's release. There to help him (in more ways than one), is Meg (Mara), his PR person. Now that you've met the family, we get to see them getting ready for the big dinner party. Each one has their own little story and they share their memories about the old man, their fears about going, others are going for their own personal gain. It's certainly not your average family.
What I liked most about Peep World was that it wasn't some silly, goofy caricature of big families and all their problems. It seemed real and I could totally believe every single situation that was presented to us on screen. The movie could have gone with zany antics and big circus acts to dazzle us, but it's more subdued and mellow. There are a few scenes that get close to hilarity (Nathan's book signing), but Peep World is more about the characters and dialog than the all too easy sight gag. Real characters, real problems, real resolve -- all while still giving us clever, witty banter to keep us entertained and staying put. That's what the movie is about.
What didn't work for me in Peep World was the last 20 minutes or so. We get something that's all built up and then Jack's story with him and his wife bring it down to a screeching halt. It got too real for me. Leave the melodramatics aside and bring us the humor. It mucked up the flow of the story and spun it into an entirely different direction. Sure, it's touching and sweet and all that -- but if I wanted something like that, I would have watched a Hallmark movie or something. So, it got a bit too sickly sweet for my taste near the end. Well.... that and I didn't feel they used enough Lesley Ann Warren (she plays Henry's ex) and Alicia Witt (she play's Henry's new girlfriend and she plays the movie version of Cheri based on Nathan's book). They could have easily squeezed some humor out of it and let these two characters interact -- but, alas, they did not. Just another missed opportunity from Peep World. More reviews at www.soveryterry.com Final Grade: B-
I was very disappointed in Peep World. I had high expectations for the movie because some of my favorite actors/comedians are in it. It is ironic that the title of the movie is Peep World and that implies you are peeping in the private lives of the characters, but that never happens. The talent was not enough to make the movie worth watching. The movie had a weird feeling to it as if you didn't start watching it from the beginning. It felt more like you started watching it in the middle and missed all the important stuff that sets up the movie. The story was about how one son's book, Peep World, affected his family. But, you never get to know all the horrible revelations that are in the book. There were very few vague references to what is in the book so you have no idea what the characters are actually going through. This movie could have been a lot better if they included the back story of what was in the book. We have no idea who these characters are and what they have been through in their dysfunctional life. So, without that, you can't relate to what they are going though now. The only positive thing I can say about the movie is at least two of the actors did a good job with their characters. Rainn Wilson was good as Joel and when I watched him it was nice not to see Dwight from the Office. Michael C. Hall was very convincing as Jack. I did feel his character's pain, frustration and humiliation. He felt real to me, probably because the frustrations he had about always having to be the "good one," the good son, good brother and the one with all the responsibility. I am in that situation daily with my own dysfunctional family and I hate it too so I really felt a connection to Jack at that point. Everybody else in the movie was just so-so. It's too bad that this movie did not go more into the contents of the book so that we could have had a background of the whole essence of the movie. Without that, the movie fell flat, very flat.
Peep World is like (almost) all of the other dysfunctional family
movies I have ever come across. It has a very short tun-time (79
minutes) and a decent cast (with some surprisingly good dramatic
performances turned in by some comedic actors). It also is NOT overly
compelling as not many of the characters are endearing or engrossing.
A terribly-cold and downright mean-mean-mean father (Ron Rifkin - LA Confidential, Boiler Room, The Sum of All Fears) is having a celebratory birthday dinner with his four adult children in attendance. None of the kids are overly fond of their financially-successful father just as he appears to be none-too-proud of any of his offspring.
Setting the siblings at odds with one another is the success the youngest has found (Ben Schwartz - Everybody's Fine, The Other Guys) after writing a scathing novel that is being made into a movie that exposes and ridicules his entire family (save their father).
Michael C. Hall ("Dexter", "Six Feet Under") plays the oldest brother who always "tries to be there for his siblings" even as his marriage is slowly falling apart (his pregnant wife is played by a surprisingly dramatic Judy Greer - 13 Going on 30, Elizabethtown, 27 Dresses); Rainn Wilson ("The Office", Super, Sahara) is the irresponsible and lazy middle brother while the lone girl is a Drama Queen actress played by a manic and most-angry Sarah Silverman (Funny People, Jesus Is Magic, School for Scoundrels). The youngest appears to be the father's favorite simply because of his recent success and each of the kids KNOW this.
If the story had remained tight and dedicated to the family dinner, I think Peep World (the name of the exposing novel AND a strip club in the film) would have been more successful. As is (after the film's opening scene of the dinner toast, the film "rewinds" some 16 hours or so) the film easily loses itself and becomes more bitter at times than entertaining (Silverman's anger is understood; but it becomes trying and tiring).
For a film of such short-length, the cast is too extensive as it also includes Lesley Ann Warren (Clue, Twin Falls Idaho, Victor/Victoria), Alicia Witt (Mr. Holland's Opus, Vanilla Sky, The Upside of Anger), Taraji P. Henson (... Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow, The Karate Kid), Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain, 127 Hours, Iron Man 2) and Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day, Freaky Friday, Memento) and they are spread too thin to become heavily concerned with/by any of them (although it is always nice seeing Miss Scarlet now and again).
As there are TOO MANY dysfunctional family films in existence, one has to really stand-out to be worthy of recommendation ... and Peep World unfortunately does NOT. While there is a fun peek/peep here-and-there -- and Michael C. Hall and Judy Greer make an interesting/believable struggling duo (and woot! to Greer going dramatic again) -- Peep World isn't worth the price of admission OR the cost of the fictional book.
It is short-enough for it to not be a waste-of-time for a viewer but not everyone will think it is worth a peep either.
Stories about dysfunctional families have always held great appeal to
me. 'Arrested Development' is among my favourite television series and
'Eulogy' and 'Little Miss Sunshine' are among my all-time favourites. I
was quite excited about 'Peep World', more so for its promising cast
and the trailer had me laughing out loud. While it's not up there with
the aforementioned titles, it's still entertaining.
The main problem with 'Peep World' is that much of the humour felt forced and it didn't add much to the film. At times it tries to be too quirky. One example is Nathan's massive erection sequence which really didn't contribute much. Also 'Peep World' felt very short. Yes, the running time is less than the standard 90 minutes but it felt like a short film rather than a feature. It could have used more story development and I would have liked to have seen what happened to the Meyerwitz after the head recovers from the stroke.
On the plus side, the comically intense sequences are well done and I also enjoyed the final dinner scene which wasn't overdone to the point of being not funny. Of the cast, Michael C. Hall, Judy Greer and Rainn Wilson are stupendous. Ron Rifkin is great. Alicia Witt and Ron Rifkin make full use of their two scenes. Ben Schwartz is very good. Kate Mara is charming. Vivacious Taraji Penda Henson is hot. Sarah Silverman is over the top but she does occasionally manage to make you laugh.
While the writing and direction is overall decent, it is mainly the ensemble that makes it work. 'Peep World' may not be a classic but it's enjoyable nonetheless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Clearly the writers/director of this flick were trying to portray the
worst in people. All in all they did a fairly good job. Most of the
casting worked, perhaps they should have spent a little more time on
Mr. Wilson's character, they missed a great opportunity there to shore
up the film.
The major flaw of the film is Sarah Silverman....she just can't act. Just like her attempts at comedy, she tries too hard. And just like her comedy, since she has no natural ability, she is left to over the top facial expressions and lines meant to shock.
Watch this movie if you find it for free, but don't go out of your way to do so.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A movie armed with such a strong cast of comedians, you almost expect a
movie like this to be open scripted hilarity. Sure there'd be a script,
but the comedians are given free reign to riff on the situations to try
to make them comedic, and to make them their own. You'd have some
semblance of a hurried background story in order to get to the dinner
section where all hell breaks loose and biting hilarity ensues.
This is not that movie.
That movie would have been amazing with this cast.
This movie is a strictly scripted dysfunctional family Indie comedy that is more dramatic than comedic. Which could be OK, if the characters were well drawn instead of being broad stereotypes put into clichéd situations. The screw-up, the good kid, the princess, the absent father, the ignored mother, and the successful kid who puts it all to paper. This is every crappy family movie crossed with Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry...minus the snark, bite, or reason. The father's speech at the end telling everybody that they are responsible for their own misery is the only change from this formula.
The movie is hollow. And, maybe that's the point. Maybe the writer is bitter about all the other family dysfunction films that send the blame up the chain. And, so he made a film that was as hollow as he felt the other movies to be, with the father being the writer's voice saying "you guys are your own problems." But, if this IS the case, this sort of po-mo response doesn't make it a good movie...or, for that matter, an entertaining one.
That's not to say this movie is completely terrible. It does have fleeting flashes of actual humor, mainly involving Leslie Ann Warren as the ignored mother and Taraji P. Henson as the screw-up's doting girlfriend, both of whom are criminally underused. But, as I said, they're fleeting flashes of humor with the rest of the film's humor being empty.
"Pardon me if I don't toast the man who ruined my life." After a book
exposing all his families secrets is published and becomes a hit Nathan
must deal with the fallout. The fact that his brothers and sister now
hate him, his dad he is completely self obsessed is the only one who is
proud of him. The movie takes place the day of the annual birthday
dinner for their dad's birthday and we watch how each person deals with
the stress of that as well as the book release. Judging by the preview
I was expecting this to be funnier then it was. I'm not saying this was
not a good movie, but I was expecting funnier. I did enjoy it, and the
movie was perfectly cast I thought, but I just thought it was missing
something to make it better. Watching each person deal with their own
personal problems set against the way they feel about the book is
enjoyable to watch, but again something was missing. I'm just not sure
what. Overall, I really did enjoy this, but it could have used
something else, I just can't figure out what it is. I give it a B.
Would I watch again? - I don't think I will.
*Also try - Everybody's Fine
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We have another entry in the competition for worst movie I have seen
The cast is quite good but the story reveals nothing new (or funny) to the audience. (Hint - the movie contains a narrator telling me that the powers to be also felt something was missing and needed help to reach the audience.) So here is what the movie gives us in the way of clichés. Families don't always get along - but come together in a crisis. Check. Families have quirky characters. Check. Children disappoint their parents and parents disappoint their children. Check and check.
There are a couple of jokes that land but mostly they do not. The movie then further confuses the story by throwing in true husband-wife conflict which unrealistically resolves itself very quickly.
Here, a rich and absent father has 4 children, none who measure up to his expectations and who are fighting amongst themselves about the family's dysfunctionality as revealed in the youngest son's popular book. The book which is the center of the movie is never discussed in an revealing detail nor are of the embarrassing revelations contained in it. Here is where the comedy could have blossomed as these revelations could have given us an insight into the characters far greater than the one liner assessments offered up my dad - "princess," "failure" and "loser." This movie just blatantly misses the mark on giving us anything worth watching.
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