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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 38.89%
Just Average: 11.11%
Pretty Crappy: 5.56%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 6 user ratings

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I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
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by Marc Kandel

"It’s romantic and a comedy; who would have thought?"
5 stars

Seriously. It was like seeing chocolate and peanut butter together again for the first time. How often are we promised a “RomCom” only to be subjected to a mess of formula and lame jokes spouted from characters we don’t even find remotely accessible held together by a threadbare plot? “I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With” is a comedy of economy, centered with tight, funny performances featuring believable, likeable characters in a focused scenario who don’t need to rely on flat gimmickry or over the top sight gags and affectations to make with the funny (and admittedly I’m a guy who likes a rubber chicken or a fart joke just as much as the next guy). Even better, there’s an actual payoff at the end that can melt even the most hardened cynic and let one leave the theater with a genuine smile.

James is a man who has lost his way in more than a few departments. He’s 20 years into his acting career with nary a big break, his tenure at Chicago’s Second City improv troupe hangs by a thread, his latest TV job is as the uncomfortable host of a particularly vicious reality show that hammers unsuspecting victims with brutal yet false revelations about their lives which shatter them upon revelation. He lives with his mom. He is not quite morbidly obese, but certainly a compulsive comfort-eater, his one outlet when things go wrong being a snack food picnic atop the hood of his car. The one constant good thing in James’ life is that he’s found a good parking spot for said car, albeit nowhere near his home- but you can’t give up a good parking space, so there it stays. His dating life is… well how could it exist with everything I’ve just told you?

So enter the romantic interests- one, a young, free spirited, playfully seductive Sara Silverman (I like Silverman- she’s one of the few women I know I can laugh at hysterically without losing my hard-on), the other an attractive, awkward, very alluring Bonnie Hunt (I haven’t seen Bonnie in much of late, but this is a great entry for her- and she even gets a great final joke in at the end of the film). One is more suited to James’ modest sensibilities, one is a bit out of the league you would expect him to be playing in- guess which one he picks. Amid all of this, it would appear that James’ life is being systematically turned to shit, jobs being lost, diets sworn on and abandoned, his favorite movie being turned into an insipidly miscast remake, and his supermarket being completely out of rice pudding.

So yes, we obviously have the makings of a quirky comedy, with some familiar conundrums (overbearing mothers, love triangles, silly things like ethics) and obstacles thrown in for good measure- but where formula and imbalance could rule the day, Jeff Garlin (James/writer/director) prefers to take a subdued approach, not letting any of the story arcs get out of hand with ridiculousness, utilizing his lessons as a vet of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and a stable of strong actors to perform a truly amusing script that might just hold more than a jot of well done improvisation. A movie that sprang to mind when I first got the gist of this one was an old John Candy flick, “Only the Lonely” which had a vaguely similar setup but spent too much time being maudlin and good hearted, leaving whatever comedic promise was there behind too easily- Garlin never allows his film to linger in this mindset for too long- the pacing is quite good and the reality and genuine emotion balanced against the yuks quite evenly. As for similarities to “Failure to Launch”… well yeah, there are. One blows, and one doesn’t- Guess which one I’m siding with?

Sure there are a few reeeeally quirky characters (a random hobo with the ability to mentally recall all nude scenes of any actress one can think of is a highlight)- but the quirks never overstay their welcome and Garlin is always there to bring things to a more level tone, without losing the humor. No matter what the situation, no matter how easily a scenario or moment of observation a la “Seinfeld” could become tedious, Garlin never allows this to happen through his (and incidentally his character James’) strongest talent: to find the amusement and interesting facets in every single thing going on around him, successfully relaying this to the audience- even when he doesn’t speak, its written in his face and reactions and that honesty and ability to roll with whatever comes his way makes for some fascinating viewing. Some folks just have the gift of great delivery- stuff you wouldn’t find funny voiced by one person is funny coming from somebody else- Jeff Garlin, like Rock, Carlin, Cosby is such a person- he's got a gift for delivery.- he's also a damn good writer.

The cast is great all around; there’s so many good cameos, so many funny moments, honestly I just can’t laundry list- go see this. For me, the fifth star on the review doesn’t even come from a humorous place, it comes from how the film ends. But overall, it’s packing some extreme belly-laughs, it makes sense, its got a lot of heart at its core, and its just a little disheartening to realize that it probably won’t be quoted extensively like a “Napoleon Dynamite” for the next two to three years until those lines no longer work on drunk frat girls (what was the shelf life of the “Austin Powers” one-liners? Was it five years?). Me, I’m going to do my best to introduce “Hoagie Shack” to the vernacular- starting with my wife.

I'm an evil bastard, but I can enjoy romcoms- if they are indeed what they purport to be. See this film- it is a genuine romantic comedy- there’s no higher accolade.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14444&reviewer=358
originally posted: 04/28/06 16:48:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/31/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess A lot of the quirkiness seems a bit force, but there are some funny moments 3 stars
12/20/07 Ole Man Bourbon Forgettable, but entertaining. Woody Allen/Larry David fans will like it. 4 stars
5/17/06 Erin i thought i was going to love it, but it seemed quirky just for the sake of being quirky. 2 stars
5/04/06 Joe M This is a "Guy Flick" There aren't many moments that a guy can't relate to in this movie. 5 stars
5/01/06 jodi nagel I loved the movie. Hoagie Shack is brilliant and the scene when he came back and all he cou 5 stars
4/27/06 Liz Seemed like it would be really good, then fizzled. 3 stars
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  DVD: 15-Apr-2008



Directed by
  Jeff Garlin

Written by
  Jeff Garlin

  Jeff Garlin
  Sarah Silverman
  Bonnie Hunt
  David Pasquesi
  Mina Kolb

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