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Finding Amanda
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by Jack Sommersby

"TV-Style Writing About a TV Writer. (No!)"
1 stars

Just another film that covers all the obvious areas in the most obvious ways possible.

In the flaccid Finding Amanda, Matthew Broderick, once an instinctive actor back in the '80s before sleepwalking through an array of undemanding roles in largely substandard films, gives another in his long line of impersonal, constipated performances as a Los Angeles-based writer of a terrible, falling-in-the-ratings TV series and husband in a strained marriage due to his gambling addiction who's asked by his in-laws to travel out to Las Vegas to locate his twenty-year-old niece who's working as a prostitute and drive her back to a rehab clinic in Malibu. Already echoes of Paul Schrader's awful Hardcore (prostitution) and Mike Figgis's trite Leaving Las Vegas (prostitution and addiction) abound, and matters certainly aren't helped by the poor dialogue and an inconsistent tone that's all over the place -- sometimes the film is a lighthearted romp, while other sections threaten to treat the gambling and prostitution aspects seriously; as a result, the proceedings, with these two sides always pulling at each other, wind up as a major double negative. And how dramatically square can you possibly get. It might've been interesting if Broderick, especially after haven taken an Ecstasy pill, had been libidinously tempted by his blonde niece's sexy physical appeal, but it's conveniently sidestepped instead, and you know the cop-out moviemakers, not wanting to jeopardize offending the mainstream masses, are playing things way too safe. And how gapingly illogical. It's never made clear why on earth the niece's father doesn't go to Las Vegas instead, or why Broderick's wife would sanction such a trip that would thrust her husband smack dab in the biggest gambling milieu on the continent -- if she were making it sort of a test, to see if he were truly reformed, there may have been some semblences of validity in this, but it simply doesn't come off that way and sticks out like the major contrivance it so obviously is. It's also quite telling that the putrid screenplay doesn't seem to be any better than the substandard stuff its lead character has been churning out as of late for boob-tube audiences. Of course, this should come as little surprise being that the screenwriter, Peter Tolan, comes from mostly a TV background where the lay of the land is spelling things out and installing just about every scene with a built-in climax to appease thirty-second attention spans, so the story winds up progressing phonily rather than dramatically. (It must be noted, however, that Tolan makes his feature-film directorial debut and does undistinguished but adequate-enough work.) All in all, Finding Amanda suffers from underdeveloped characters, mediocre performances, squandered potential, and an indifferent approach to the subject matter that renders just about everything moot. For a cinematic endeavor supposedly dealing with the allure of sin and temptation, it's as telling as a Ouija board and as tantalizing as a mold-covered Chia pet.

So stale, contrived, and impersonal that it's surprising it managed to stick to the celluloide.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17513&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/25/08 14:39:02
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User Comments

5/26/11 art DEPRESSING,TIME WASTER! 1 stars
8/16/08 George Barksdale Not one of Matthew Broderick best 2 stars
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  27-Jun-2008 (R)
  DVD: 16-Sep-2008


  DVD: 16-Sep-2008

Directed by
  Peter Tolan

Written by
  Peter Tolan

  Matthew Broderick
  Brittany Snow
  Peter Facinelli
  Maura Tierney
  Daniel Roebuck

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