23 January 2004 | rsoonsa
HAS NOT A GRAM OF REALITY
A worthy assemblage is gathered for this film produced for cable television, with some first-rate players and excellent technicians aboard under the guidance of a capable director, yet this work lacks those attributes necessary for artistic success. A primary cause for this failure, as is so often the case, is a tritely created script that apparently causes director Irvin Kershner to lose heart in the proceedings, as the action and dialogue are so consistently fanciful and undeveloped that there is little justification for his attending to details or trying to establish a point of view among the discontinuity from within the foolish scenario. As the eponymous lead is John Lithgow as Ben Clewett, a salesman of industrial foam who has lost some of his edge, resulting in his being paired by his district manager (John Glover) with a neophyte drummer, Billy Fox (Jonathan Silverman), but their initial road trip becomes complicated when it is apparent that Billy is trying to garner Ben's position as his firm's premier huckster. While the duo is in a New Orleans gyrating with its Mardi Gras, Ben meets a young woman, Joanna (Margaret Colin) and they unexpectedly fall in love as depicted in a series of unconvincing scenes, whereafter the veteran road hawker must decide if he should continue to pursue a vocation that continues to ebb, or run off with his new love to her home city (Seattle) to begin anew. Lithgow is pleasing to watch, and he tries to overcome his banal lines, but Silverman's capricious accent serves but to accentuate his miscasting as a man from the Deep South, while Glover is interesting as ever to observe, but should have been toned down as his lack of range in this role becomes wearing. Filming takes place in an Atlanta and a New Orleans that even the most privileged of tourists rarely experience, but happily effects of haphazard direction and uneven editing are salved to an extent by the score of Miles Goodman, whose idiomatic Dixie based jazz rhythms help to bring about faith in the genuineness of motivation within the tired storyline that simply is not there.