I'm putting this movie among my favourites.
Trial and Error (1997)
User ReviewsReview this title
I'm putting this movie among my favourites.
Jeff Daniels gets it done as the schlub lawyer who likes his chicken salad with mustard, not mayonnaise. Finally, we have Charlize Theron at her absolute apex (lookswise, not as an actress...clearly). You just knew it would lead to bigger & better things for her, and it did.
Worth checking out. RIETTI!!!!!
This is a wonderful movie, which raises important questions about the veneer most of us use to hide our real selves. Like most good comedians (e.g., Robin Williams, Steve Martin), Michael Richards is also a fine actor, and his closing argument in the case is an especially masterful piece of acting.
It also has a very clear critique and commentary on social classes, the trifles of high society weddings, ambition and personal quest for power and wealth, marriages of convenience without love, and more. In an early scene, we see the two leading men in one's new law office. It's a wrap-around corner with glass windows and views over the whole city, and a huge waste of space. The ridiculousness of it is accentuated by the solitary desk and chair across a huge room with nothing else in it.
The film touches on the scams and frauds being perpetrated in our country, especially against the gullible. My one complaint is that the writers might have chosen a better scam to be prosecuting – one in which older people especially get taken to the cleaners. But then, this one lends itself perfectly to spoofing and the hilarious courtroom "drama." To get an engraved likeness of Abraham Lincoln for just $17.99? Who couldn't bite? Indeed, how we no longer count our pennies as a society!
"Trial and Error" is not a movie of many funny and witty lines. Or even a great deal of romance. It doesn't have a lot of situations for out-loud laughter. That may be why many of the viewers drawn to it don't think much of the film. But, again, had the film been promoted for its satire and breadth, it likely would have drawn a wider audience and much greater appreciation.
Of course, there are some very good scenes of laughter. Michael Richards plays Richard Rietti, an actor who is out of work at the time. Jeff Daniels plays his friend, Charles Tuttle, who is a lawyer. Jeff says he hopes Richard didn't do his godfather routine at his recent tryout. In a flashback, we see Richard doing just that. He's hilarious and has tremendous body machinations. He bounces from one wall to another, flies across a room, falls to the floor and twists and turns in reaction to imaginary punches, kicks and throws from imaginary mob men. The courtroom scenes are peppered with very funny antics from various people – Richard and Charles especially. But the judge too gets in the picture. Austin Pendleton plays Judge Graff. Could his name be an intentional play on words (as in graft and corruption)? And the jury members are definitely part of the fun and farce.
Rip Torn, as Benny Gibbs, gives one of the best down and out pity stories on film intended to evoke laughter. And it does, with me. In another scene, Richard is in his hotel room watching a video on trial procedures. The speaker is the legendary Wyoming trial attorney Gerry Spence. He strikes a chord with Richard when he says that the courtroom is like a stage play and the trial lawyer is in charge. He's the producer, director and star of the show.
The film has subtle humor throughout, as Charles tries to stick to the facts while Richard goes for the theatrics. The court system is supposed to rely on the facts, but clearly, emotions will win out most of the time. That's because of the human element. One must wonder if justice is truly served, or if it is mostly a huge stage for lawyers to get rich. This film brings all that to the fore; and it spoofs the testimony of "expert" witnesses as well. Charles says to Richard at one point, that money will always find people willing to testify one way or another. Lying is a part of the game.
But, after a while, our heroes decide they want to change and have the system work for real justice. That's the conclusion of the film. And, oh yes, there is romance and "real" love for both leading men. They are helped along by good performances from Charlize Theron as Billie Tyler and Jessica Steen as Elizabeth.
One last plus for the film is the setting. It's supposed to be in Lone Pine, Nevada, for which road signs were made. But it was shot in and around Lone Pine, California. So, the film has nice scenic shots of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
This is a delightful film and spoof. Those who watch it for what it is are sure to enjoy it immensely.
A great view of how something seemingly simple can quickly become absurd. All through this movie were characters of stark contrasts. What ensues is a complete loss of control of a simple thing and the way in which the different characters handle it.
The irony of the whole thing is that the harder the serious ones tried to control the situation, the more out of control the thing got.
The real brilliance though, lies in Richards' character, Richard Rietti. Playing as an actor, he approaches life as one big play, and the lawyer as yet another role. All the world's a stage. I think this movie points this out for us. In the end, we can only laugh at man's attempt to establish order, whether in the courtroom, or in life, in the face of chaos.
Charles Tuttle (Daniels) is a lawyer who will soon be married. His best friend, and best man for the wedding, is an out-of-work actor named Richard Rietti (Richards). Tuttle has been called over to Paradise Bluff, Nevada to defend his fiancée's relative, Benny Gibbs, in a class action fraud suit. When he arrives in the town, Richard (or "Ricky") is there, and is ready to throw a bachelor party for his friend. After drinking and getting attacked in the bar, Charlie is not well enough to work the next day, so Ricky decides to go to the courtroom and claim to be a lawyer named Charles Tuttle! Charlie is not happy when he hears what Ricky has done, and soon finds that he now has to pose as an actor named Richard Rietti! Since the real Rietti is not trained to be a lawyer, the real Charlie pretends to be his assistant, using cue cards to tell him what to do on the job while he defends Benny. Obviously, this leads to a horrible mess!
There weren't too many times when I laughed really hard while watching this 1997 comedy, but there were many parts I found at least mildly amusing. I can't forget Ricky discovering that his sick friend in bed has emptied out his pill bottle, Ricky trying to prepare Charlie for the trial while he is ill, Charlie's reaction when he learns what Ricky has done, and many things the main characters go through while they pose as each other. Michael Richards and Jeff Daniels are a good pair in the lead roles, which might be the main reason why this film is funny. Richards, with his over-the-top antics, playing a character with good intentions who keeps lousing up, and Daniels, with some of the faces he makes and his character's reactions to Ricky's doings. Unfortunately, the plot isn't too interesting, and if the film were hilarious, that wouldn't matter, but it's not funny enough to prevent the movie from being a little dull. Also, the romance wasn't done so well, eventually getting a little sappy, and the ending leaves much to be desired.
This movie came out the same year as "Liar Liar", another lawyer comedy. That film is definitely the more popular of the two, but I have to be honest, I prefer this one, as crazy as many people might think I am for that. While Jim Carrey has made me laugh in other films, I found that his antics went too far in that one. Richards and Daniels, while not usually hilarious in the film, are still pretty funny. I'm sure we all know about Richards' racist tirade in November 2006, which obviously permanently damaged his reputation and started a never ending debate over whether he really meant what he said and whether his apology was honest or not. It clearly had more impact than Mel Gibson's tirade earlier that year, and the main reason for that was probably because Richards was caught on video. I remember feeling like I could never watch anything with Richards in it again after I first heard about the incident and saw the footage, but now, regardless of his reputation and what may go on in his head, I have to admit, he can still make me laugh in the comedies I see him in. If you like the two co-stars in "Trial and Error" as comedians, then this flick could easily make you laugh, or at least some parts could.
The only real complaint I have about the movie is the way that Jeff Daniels gets detained from court in the first place. I thought they could have come up with a better way of getting Michael Richards in the court room than having Jeff Daniels get in a bar fight and then taking too much medicine to go to court the next day.
Anyhow, if you have the time and like the actors in the film, then go ahead and see it, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see it. Thanks for reading.
Anyway, there was a sale at my local West Coast Video, where I was able to purchase 5 videos for 19.99, so I decided to pick up "Trial and Error," with a gut feeling that this time I'll probably keep a more open mind and enjoy it a lot more. Well, I popped in the tape and I was impressed. This is a funny film, and I got a lot more laughs than I did when sitting in the theater. Sure, it's no "My Cousin Vinny" and I can't help but watch a courtroom comedy with that comparison in mind, but I was still able to enjoy it for what it is.
Michael Richards is not nearly as funny as Joe Pesci, but he was able to deliver some laughs without being over-the-top, which I found impressive. Sure, I loved him as Kramer, but the movie's name is "Trial and Error" and not "Seinfeld," and his job to play a CHARACTER. And he did a fine job at playing this character, even showing in certain scenes that he has potential as a serious actor. Richards is a good actor, and not simply a comedian who transfers his act to the big screen, like in the case of a Chris Tucker or Cedric the Entertainer. Jeff Daniels is a very funny straight man, and some of his emotional outbursts are really enjoyable to watch. Charlize Theron is her normal beautiful, charming self. I just wish Alexandra Wentworth could've been given a less thankless role. She doesn't get much chance to flaunt her talents as a comic actress.
What prevents the movie from being a great, memorable comedy is its predictable, utterly formulaic plot. Daniels is engaged to a woman, who he obviously doesn't like in the first place, and from one twist of fate he falls for another woman and decides to bump the marriage. And of course, there's the case with Richards, where he pulls his "fake lawyer" act disastrously at first, improves as he goes along and finally has an attack of conscience and decides to lose the case, allowing the slimy defendant to pay his debt to society. Didn't I see that in "Liar Liar"? And other movies of this sort?
Despite its flaws, I liked the movie and was able to accept it for what it is...the second time around. I imagine others had the same feelings as I did on the first viewing. "Trial and Error" isn't a must-see, but it's worth watching.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
It's all about the appeal and comic abilities of this cast. Ultimately, the film is nothing special, with no real comedy fireworks, but it's still funny and engaging enough to make it pleasant throughout. It's too bad Richards, a.k.a. Cosmo Kramer, didn't get more feature film opportunities in this vein, as he's really able to strut his stuff. And he has fine chemistry with Daniels, who gets to alternate between being a "straight man", of sorts, and getting hilariously flustered as things go completely awry. Charlize Theron may be the MAIN reason to watch "Trial and Error", however, as she *is* utterly adorable as the cute & perky waitress to whom Charles becomes attracted.
They all receive very capable support from Rip Torn as the con man, Austin Pendleton (who was the stuttering temporary replacement for Vinny in "My Cousin Vinny") as the judge, a strikingly sexy Jessica Steen as the exasperated prosecutor, Lawrence Pressman as Charles' boss, Max Casella as a VERY young looking doctor, Dale Dye as a psychiatric expert, and Jennifer Coolidge as a priceless "dietary expert" of some kind.
This would make an agreeable double feature with another 1997 comedy about a lawyer, "Liar Liar", although "Trial and Error" never does get as cartoonish as that Jim Carrey vehicle.
Among the highlights: Charles having to sit in a car parked outside the courthouse (he ends up getting banned from the courtroom), beeping in Morse code the sort of dialogue that he needs Richard to deliver.
Seven out of 10.
*** out of ****
A great cast rounds out a lighthearted, good-natured, mellow yet cheerful little comedy. You wont be sorry to spend the time with this movie.
Anyone got the recipe for a Paradise Manhattan ?
The main focus is on Jeff Daniels' character, and the personal catharsis he goes through. Michael Richards' performance is surprisingly toned-down and complex, and Charlize Therone adds the perfect romantic side-story.
Nothing earth-shaking here, and Oscar nominations weren't in the cards, but this is a really engaging little gem.
His friend, the one who takes over the case for him, knows absolutely nothing about law and can do absolutely nothing with out his friend beside him (or at least in communication range). Yet the movie always takes the lawyer away to leave us laughing at the ineptitude of the friend, who happens to be an actor.
This movie really has nothing that makes it stand out. The lawyer is engaged to be married to a rich girl who is the daughter of the boss of the law firm for whom he works, but he gives her up for a sweet city girl come country girl who has a humble background. The actor is chasing one particular woman all the way through the movie, that is the prosecutor, and gets away with things such as sexual harassment. In the end he lands up with her, which is very typical of Hollywood.
The name of the town, Paradise Bluff, brings up some thoughts, as if it is a place that on the outside seems perfect, but deep within there is some rotting evil. In this movie though, there is no allusion, nor is there any hidden evil. Paradise Bluff is a Paradise where the heroes live happily ever after.
In my opinion, Trial and Error is a very dull movie with little to no comedy in it at all. It is not worth hiring, nor is it worth wasting one's time watching it on TV. The only time one should even consider watching this movie is when you are stuck on a bus between Adelaide and Sydney, and there is no way off.