14 September 2000 | James B.
Mostly enjoyable comedy.
This is a pretty good 'slice-of-life' comedy. It revolves around four male actors who become captivated by the prospect of auditioning for the part of Al Capone in Martin Scorsese's next production. The Los Angeles actors' lifestyle is chronicled here, with several ironic references to familiar themes: nobody can keep their mouth shut, times are tough, and everybody is out for themselves.
"With Friends Like These" has flaws. It doesn't have as many laughs as it should, and the 'feel-good' parts of the film don't come off quite right. There is some comedy here, and some drama, but the the two aren't integrated well. The characters are knowingly painted as self-absorbed, except for Amy Madigan's character, who has a penchant for charity work. What saves the film is a fairly good script, some good ensemble work by the cast, and a brisk tempo that keeps the film hopping along.
The film's second half is better than its first, and I enjoyed the end quite a bit. David Strathairn is one of the great underrated American actors, and he has a lot to do with the film gaining momentum. Elle MacPherson is good too, as she is given something to do besides just look ravishing. She always does that well, but it's nice to see her get a chance to act.
Other nice touches were Scorsese himself appearing in one of the pivotal final scenes, and some nice work between Strathairn and his girlfriend, played by Lauren Tom. This film isn't a classic, but it is about people rather than robots or a serial killer, and it doesn't insult the intelligence of people over 20 years old. Rating 7/10.