Dennis suggests If Lucy Fell (in Comedy). Videoport’s Matthew and I may be the only two people in Portland who genuinely a). know who writer/director/star Eric Schaeffer is and b). don’t think he’s weird and annoying. Well, you guys just haven’t gotten to know him like we have. This 1996 romantic comedy was Schaeffer’s shot at mainstream success and, while that didn’t work out, it’s remains a refreshingly-odd and affecting antidote to bland ‘romantic comedies’ like The Wedding Planner, The Wedding Date, My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding or anything with Kate Hudson in it. It’s weird that this didn’t do better, really, as Schaeffer was savvy (or lucky) enough to
have brought in Sarah Jessica Parker and Ben Stiller (right before they really took off) as support; (it’s also a bummer that neither of them have reciprocated now that they pull down ten million or so a picture). In this one, Schaeffer plays Joe, Schaeffer’s usual snaggly, slightly spazzy goof with a soulful side who lives with his best friend Lucy (Parker, getting to act softer and goofier than usual, herself), and who pines helplessly for his unbelievably-gorgeous neighbor, the leggy Jane (played by at-the-peak-of-her-strapping-loveliness Elle MacPherson). He’s a painter, she’s a therapist, they’re both in 29 and sadly single and Jane reminds them of a long-ago promise to kill themselves in a ‘death pact’ if neither of them is in a real relationship by the time they’re 30. Premise! So they both agree to throw caution to the wind for the last month before jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge: Joe will finally court Jane, while Lucy will go out with anyone who asks, leading her to reluctantly accept the off-the-wall advances of famous, fatuous art phenom Bwick Elias (a funny turn by a dreadlocked Stiller). Like I said, I like Schaeffer- he’s a unique comic voice and a funny guy with a serious romantic streak, and Parker and Stiller were showing more colors back then before their public personas hardened into commercial product and, if the whole ‘death pact’ thing doesn’t quite pay off, well, it’s still an unique way to get things rolling towards the predictable, yet satisfying, conclusion. Great songs by the band Marry Me Jane. Look for a young Scarlett Johansen in a small role. Also, check out Schaeffer’s other films Fall, Mind the Gap, Never Again, and Wirey Spindell *(sadly, his excellent first comedy My Life’s In Turnaround remains out of print), and see if you’ll join Matt and me in the Portland chapter of the Eric Schaeffer fan club.
*And this week, Videoport brings in season 1 of Schaeffer’s mate-hunting reality show ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Still Single’; if you like him already, you’ll like (and simultaneaously be creeped out by) it. If you find him offputting and creepy, well, you’ll…still think that.