24 August 2008 | Buddy-51
well-meaning film falls flat
Written and directed by E. Paul Edwards, "Fighting Words" is a low-budget romantic drama set in the fringe world of slam poetry. Jake Thompson (Jeff Stearns) is the pained poet and Marni Elliot (Tara T'Agostino) the HIV-positive book publisher who takes an interest in the promising young man's person and work. C. Thomas Howell appears as a slime ball, cutthroat poet (and ex-boy friend of Marni) who will stop at nothing to keep Jake from winning a competition and the book deal that goes with it. Fred Willard puts in an appearance near the end as the emcee of the contest.
The movie is certainly well-intentioned, and it earns at least a few points for its unusual subject matter, but an overall amateurishness in the performances and direction relegates it to minor league status. Moreover, an air of contrivance in the storytelling - especially in the final third - goes a long way towards undercutting any credibility the film might have had.