12 April 2005 | dinky-4
Too little effort made to "sell" an implausible premise
There's the germ of an idea at the heart of this movie but neither script nor direction goes far enough in developing it. The result is a story too contrived and unlikely to fully capture our attention. We're asked to believe that a well-known and socially-prominent New York multimillionaire could, following a mid-life "crisis," go to Hollywood, change his name and appearance, and become a hot new movie star -- all without anyone becoming the wiser. How could the tabloids miss a once-in-a-lifetime story like this? The movie doesn't even seem to believe its own premise, padding its lazily-developed plot-line with montages and song interludes which seem designed to lull viewers into an indulgent state and to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the film's running time to about 90 minutes. Attempts to satirize the movie business are too bland and obvious to provide any real humor. (The movie studio is called "B.S. Pictures.") Worst of all, the hero's millionaire status robs him of the appeal he might have were he the "little guy" struggling against the System. As it is, he merely seems to be a rich guy who's "slumming" it. And why is his screen writing girlfriend so upset when she discovers he's working under an assumed name and has a different past than the one described in his official studio biography? What turnip-wagon did she just fall off of? George Hamilton has a few tolerable moments as an actor in old b&w movies which keep appearing on TV sets, but little is done to develop this aspect of the script. Instead, leading-man Jack Scalia must carry the movie himself and, even granted there's little to work with, he's not up to the task. Scalia's early exposure came when he modeled Eminence briefs in magazine ads, back in the late 1970s. This was in the era when Jim Palmer posed for Jockey ads and Jack Youngblood did the same for Munsingwear. Those bulgy "jocks" projected a hearty image of "real men" who'd be comfortable inside a locker-room, but Scalia's ads exuded a languid sexuality. (He never smiled and was often in a reclining position.) It's no wonder that acting roles followed but Scalia never quite seemed to find the right niche. He wavered between light-hearted comedies, sexy romances, and tough-guy action movies, but none of these images clicked. The only consistency in his work rested in the fact that, sooner or later, his shirt would come off in the course of the movie. "Amore!" is no exception. There's a scene of his character filming his first movie -- a spy caper called "From Roma with Love" -- and in this scene he's stripped to the waist and hanging from his wrists in mid-air as he's lashed with a whip. Perhaps the feeling was that adding a bit of sadomasochism to the usual "beefcake" would expand Scalia's appeal, but the results don't bear this out. Scalia still seems like nothing more than an attractive, amiable actor of limited skills and range who seems fated never to find the right project but who always looks good with his shirt off.