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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look53.33%
Just Average: 43.33%
Pretty Crappy: 3.33%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 6 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"What’s a Guy Got To Do To Get Laid?"
4 stars

I instantly have to appreciate a pair of Chicagoans offering up their vision of New York, labeled “the greatest city in the world” and home to the “Evil Empire” of Major League Baseball. Not just any Chicagoans though but David Mamet, considered one of the greatest writers of any medium in his day, and Stuart Gordon, famed for his gory cult offerings to the world of horror such as Re-Animator and From Beyond. Who better to take us into the underbelly of a tourist trap where racism and sexual identity can turn even the most anonymous of society into what there is to fear out there late in the streets?

William H. Macy plays Edmond Burke, just another businessman in the city going home to his wife at the end of the day. Only instead of “honey, I’m home”, he announces that he’s leaving her since she no longer stimulates him “sexually or spiritually.” And where the day ends, the night begins for Edmond who first takes the note he was handed by his receptionist and sees it as a vision to frequent a fortune teller. The various cards he is dealt look like something out of a Clive Barker tale and is told, somewhat obviously, that he’s “not where he belongs.”

His next encounter of the evening comes in a bar, which in absence of a neighborhood barbershop, is the place for men to be men and say what they feel. The guy he meets (Joe Mantegna) is like the guardian angel of Mamet productions; one who could easily drop himself into any of the cavalier discussions and ongoings, find a home and then leave. This one casually announces that he “wishes he were a nigger,” a revelation that Edmond quickly backs up although without the white man’s burden reasoning that he overhears from this alpha-male stranger who sympathizes with Edmond’s plight. He desperately needs to get laid.

Desperation is a mere understatement as Edmond needs something new in his life, something to make him feel like a man, something to make him free. His journey is comically fraught with his insistence that what he has to offer to secure a few moments of pleasure is “too much.” Fifty dollars to get what he wants from a stripper (Denise Richards) is a pretty good deal, but he’ll be damned if he has to dish out another hundred to pay for two drinks and give the bargirl her cut. From peep show to pimp show, Edmond is denied until he’s able to adapt to the cliché that self-confidence is the truest path to a woman’s vagina.

Mamet isn’t just content with the frugal stylings of a pathetic horndog and takes Edmond to even darker corners of both society and his own psyche. Whether it’s been dormant for all these years or his experiences open him up to a hatred he never fully contemplated or understood until now, Edmond in his desire to be “free” inevitably imprisons himself in a bubble of ideas that he’s incapable of articulating. “Do you know why I hate faggots,” he asks and then replies, “because they suck cock.” Insulting, no doubt, to some but also riotously funny for the way it underscores a blanket hatred for being voguish for Edmond.

Sort of a cross stream between his loser from The Cooler and the manic hopelessness of his Fargo concoction, Macy plays Edmond with a pathetic know-how like an outcast child on the playground trying to suck up to the cool kids. There’s a cathartic quality for all of us in the way he handles a mistrustful pimp but a fearful anxiety in the way he becomes drunk with the power of that catharsis. Like the Vic Morrow character in the Twilight Zone film, he discovers the unfortunate truth of what it’s like to step into the shoes of an anonymous black man when his friendly conversation on the subway is ignored until he explodes trying to understand such derision. He criticizes a young actress for not copping to her true calling as a waitress, unaware that he’s actually created a role for himself. And aside it being another great role for Macy, Edmond features great moments for Joe Mantegna (wonderful to see him back with Mamet even for just a moment), Bai Ling, Mena Suvari, George Wendt, Dulé Hill, Denise Richards, Jeffrey Combs and Julia Stiles (who proves once again that she should be working exclusively with Mamet.)

Edmond plays like Eyes Wide Shut meets Falling Down with a dash of Fight Club, although Mamet’s original play debuted way back in 1982 before any of those films existed (Traumnovelle notwithstanding) and before New York underwent a Giuliani storm washing away many of the elements depicted. But does the city make the man or is the man just a sheer reflection of his surroundings? The wonder and sadness of Mamet’s examination is the timelessness of its psychology and is as open to analysis with each encounter bringing Edmond closer to understanding who he is. Depending on who YOU are, you may see it as a celebration of marriage as a grounding platform or what it can actually drive men to do. Is freedom a physical or mental state that can be washed away for another day with one good sexual release or is this just Mamet’s hellish view of the Big Apple during his time there? Maybe he can someday complete it as a trilogy with Edmond making trips to Green Bay and St. Louis.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14194&reviewer=198
originally posted: 07/14/06 00:00:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantasia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

4/18/17 danR "...change <i>OF</i> a twenty." Definitely New Yawk. 4 stars
5/04/09 brian Maybe ennui isn't so bad after all..... 4 stars
3/24/08 terry macy brilliant 4 stars
11/22/06 Indrid Cold A pleasant surprise. Leaves me more impressed with Mamet than with Macy. 4 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Macy is solid, story is unpredictable, but rather underwhelming overall, kinda like Bubble. 3 stars
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  14-Jul-2006 (R)
  DVD: 03-Oct-2006



Directed by
  Stuart Gordon

Written by
  David Mamet

  William H. Macy
  Julia Stiles
  Joe Mantegna
  Bai Ling
  Rebecca Pidgeon
  Jeffrey Combs

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