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Working inside a Walk/Don't Walk traffic light isn't as easy as it looks. When you learn more about Lester and James' life, you will never cross a street in the same way - especially if Julia isn't far away.
On one day at an English Hotel, four different stories are shown. Diana is in London to promote her Television Series and her ex-husband Sidney shows up to ask her for money for his gay lover. Mark and Annie come to London for the Wimbledon Tennis matches, but they lose their tickets and Mark's back goes out. Debra is on her honeymoon with Paul, but Paul is missing and Debra lies to everyone she meets as to where Paul is. Sharon and Lauren are on a shop till you drop trip and Sharon meets Dennis, an older man who seems to be interested in her.Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
An Off-Day for Neil Simon: Sometimes Great Hitters Just Hit One Single in Four At-Bats.
Given the enormous comedic talent involved, this was rather disappointing. The most successful comedic playwright since Shakespeare, Neil Simon, has half a dozen of the most popular American comedians of the 1990's in this 1996 production. The director, Jay Sandwich, was the main director of the two most popular American television shows of the 1970's and 1980's (the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the Bill Cosby Show).
Neil Simon always mixes together four or five plots and keeps them moving briskly. In this case three of his four separate plots go nowhere. Only one pays off.
The successful plot involves Sidney (Kelsey Grammar) and Diana (Patricia Clarkson). Diana is a successful television star hoping to revive her marriage to Sidney that broke up eight years previously. Sidney has been living as a gay man on the Greek island of Mikonos for those eight years and has come to meet Diana for an entirely different reason. The performances here are subtle, sharp, sensitive and sweet.
Julia Louise Dreyfus and Johnathan Silverman try to work a plot about a newlywed who loses her husband at the airport. Dreyfus is pure slapstick, twisting,turning and rolling her eyes to simulate her hysteria at losing her husband. Silverman arrives too late and is too laid-back to improve things. At one point Dreyfus is supposed to be drunk and says to a waiter, "I'm drunk, can't you tell?" In fact, she acts drunk throughout, so it is hard to tell.
Michel Richards and Julie Haggardy do more mainly physical slapstick as a man with a bad back and a wife who loses her husband's Wimbledon tickets. This seems to go back to television sketch comedy of the 1950's. One could imagine Sid Caesar or Milton Berle wringing the same laughs from the material. Richards is in his element with the physical comedy, so there are a few laughs here. Brits, Paxton Whitehead and Jane Carr brighten up this episode.
Madeline Kahn and Richard Mulligan go on a mismatched date which leads nowhere. It reminded me of the old television show "Love American Style". There are a few faint smiles but no laughs here.
I would say, if you're a Neil Simon fan, see it for the wonderful acting of Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Clarkson, but don't expect anything from the other stories. As a whole, it is sub-par Neil Simon, but at least 25% of it is solid Neil Simon at his best
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