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Overall Rating
2.94

Awesome: 11.76%
Worth A Look: 11.76%
Just Average: 35.29%
Pretty Crappy41.18%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Walking on the Sky
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by PaulBryant

"A Smallish Chill"
2 stars

Alfred Hitchcock coined the term “icebox talk” as the type of red-herring dialogue that means nothing to a movie’s plot, and yet which leads the audience along through a movie until they have traveled all the way home from the theatre, and are rummaging through the fridge for a snack before they realize how inconsequential it was. Wisely, the Master of Suspense employed this tool only once or twice in a movie, but with respect to Walking on the Sky, you’d just about have to rummage through all the lockers of an entire meatpacking district before you could summon up every instance of throwaway conversation.

The film, written, directed, and starring Carl T. Evans, begins promisingly enough, with a jaunty montage of New York City streets a la NYPD Blue (read: lots of bustling pedestrians, flash-pans and DON’T WALK signs), crosscut with a man getting out of bed in the morning, putting on his clothes, and heading out to his rooftop. If this is the movie’s most energetic palpitation (and it is, by the way), then the rest of the film teeters perilously between resting heartbeat and outright flat-line.

It seems the man, Josh (Michael Knowles), whom we saw glimpses of in the opening decided that morning to not only get up and head to the roof of the building for some fresh air, but to keep straight on and wait for the sidewalk to rush up and meet him. That same fateful jumping-off point soon becomes a stage for his bevy of friends to convene and talk about what happened.

One by one they make their way up to the open air rooftop and have their grieving scenes. First there is the ex-girlfriend, Sara (Susan Misner), full of guilt and passionate about smoke exhalation; next is the mousy veterinarian, Jo (Kristen Marie Holly); then the bitchy blue-blazered yuppie, Liz (Nicole Fonarow) and her doofus husband, Jim (Chris Henry Coffey), who care more about heaving insults at each other than thinking about the enormity of the situation. Next, and with the most inane character, is a triple-A baseball player, Nick (Randal Batinkoff), who doesn’t yet know that Josh has committed suicide, and must learn of it through the faces and words of his friends, ten feet away from the place he jumped.

Then strolls in the film’s lead – although we wont discover he’s the lead for a good ninety minutes or so – Dylan (Evans). Evidently he has lost touch with the group, and, though he has come home from out of town to be with them, gets pathetically chastised by Nick from not returning phone calls (what are we in grade 7 here? “You didn’t call me back so you aren’t my best friend anymore, and you have no right to grieve for our dead buddy… and you’re not allowed to come to my birthday!”)

Once the initial rifts within the group are presented, the film goes along to its central plot device: the discovery of Josh’s diary. Someone suggests they read it, to see if there is some detail as to why he might have taken his own life (perhaps all work and no play was to blame??), and after some rather generous bickering – “yes we should”, “no we shouldn’t”, “okay, why not”, “oh no, it’s not right” – they decide to sit around in semi-circle and read aloud.

Now, not to be picky, but the diary itself is a rather small book. Yet once they start reading, it seems to tap into memories of events that happened several years ago, going into generous detail about the minutiae of baseball games and drunken conversations. All these little tidbits in one tiny volume? It think not, somehow. And not to be further picky, but I don’t think I would have started at the beginning of a someone’s diary if I wanted to find out the reason why they ended their life. Like any good Agatha Christie aficionado, I would’ve known that turning to the last page gives you the best chance of solving the mystery. Anyways, the movie is clearly less interested in finding out the actual reason why Josh did the deed (which is dangerous, because it is the one thing each character truly desires to find out) and spends most of its time delving (flashbacks and all) into the story of his relationship with each friend.

Now I’m going to be super picky here, but if it were me reading the diary, I would get the impression after I had read two sentences about the retelling of a Sunday baseball game that this story wouldn’t lead me to unleashing Josh’s inner-pysche. Personally, I would skip past such things post haste, especially a detailed account of a day the friends spent throwing latex paint all over each other, because, without getting into the relevance these things fail to have towards the film, they have nothing to do with the major concern of the characters! These six friends sat down to read these pages to find out why their best longtime friend killed himself, not just to pass the time.

But passing time is just what the movie appears to be doing. Characters aren’t motivated by anything in particular, they just drift around each other and make chitchat about the good ol’ days, until it’s time to get back to reading about Josh’s mundane life again. At one point they decide to go get a drink at a favorite watering hole and, kid you not, sing two consecutive tracks of karaoke (The Kinks and Pat Benatar, respectively) in the film’s most unbelievably wandering sequence. I mean, if I don’t want to hear Pat Benatar sing Pat Benatar, why would I want to hear a bunch of folks who look like morose clones of the cast of Friends get up and belt out “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”?

Needless to say, the movie makes it painfully clear that there was nothing all too remarkable about this lost friend, and is really about the lives of the friends who survived him. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing remarkable about the friends either. That is, except for one – Evans’ own characterization of Dylan. And the discovery that he isn’t just another cardboard cutout comes in the final ten minutes of the movie, thanks to a well-delivered speech that gives him a Rosebud-esque justification of his malaise that ends the film on a rare good note. So at least Evans proves that though his film may be clichéd, his scripting awkward and without satisfaction, he is actually quite a good actor.

And yet, as well as it’s performed by the actor, the director (who is of course the same person) doesn’t trust the power of the writer’s words (who is of course the same person) or the performance given, and feels the need to splice in a flashback visualizing the childhood event he describes.

When you have a speech this powerful, and an actor adept enough to deliver it, trust that the man’s words are strong enough to paint a much clearer picture than any flashback ever could, especially if it's gummed up with a lot of bad child acting. It would be as if Orson Welles cut in a flashback of a girl in a white parasol getting of a ferry in Citizen Kane, or if Spielberg had inserted shots of the Indianapolis being torpedoed as described by Robert Shaw in Jaws - you just don't do it!

In the end, the movie is weighed down by its own disorientation, and falls flat. About the only thing worth noting besides Evans' acting turn is Michael Tremante’s musical score, which would have been effective in a good movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12701&reviewer=364
originally posted: 08/29/05 22:59:27
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User Comments

9/18/05 Carrie Amateur... my friends who're still in film school have better works than this 2 stars
8/26/05 Gloria Morrison This is a film worth viewing - 5 stars
8/26/05 Ron Lesser an engrossing relationship drama. I enjoyed the performance of Carl T Evans as Dylan 4 stars
8/16/05 Marguerite amazing story, directing and acting!! A must see 5 stars
8/07/05 hank duchon decent film, great acting 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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