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The Amateurs Feels Amateur

Published December 6, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of First Look.
The Amateurs Poster The Amateurs
The Amateurs is this year's Finishing the Game. Oh wait… Well, it does for porno what Death at a Funeral did for wakes. It just tries too hard and doesn't really get itself.

Review: The Amateurs


Lovable loser Andy Sargentee (Jeff Bridges) comes up with a scheme to have his small town kooks make an amateur porno film. Everyone buys into it and they go about making their movie with stereotypical incompetence.

All the characters are just too obvious. One is actually named Some Idiot. There's Moe and Ron, the inseparable duo. Moose is the flamboyant gay trying to act like one of the guys. It's like a bad improv troop setting up a game that's not going to go well. They repeat a lot of the same jokes over and over too. Like the exact same joke, not even a different version.

There's certainly no real world element to ground the antics, but that wouldn't even help. If the joke is innocents talking about film and sex, they seem a little too pretentious and a little too horny. The self-referential jokes about the film's own narrative devices only point out how incompetent it legitimately is. (The narrator proposes to show rather than tell us, but he keeps telling us the entire plot in voiceover!) Why is this film being self-referential anyway? It's not postmodern. It's not even modern.



The film, not the characters but the film itself, actually has no understanding of what porn is. It's afraid to let its lovable scamps be vulgar. They're trying to be cute. The joke should be dirty but it won't go there. It's a sexless sex comedy, except that they talk about having sex so they're not really innocent.

Casting the porno isn't funny. They're just guys babbling to girls. Writing the porno is not funny because it's neither logical nor absurd. It's just nonsense. Shooting the porno is not funny because nobody is having fun. They're trying to make art, which is bullsh**. The joke about small town bumblers making a porno is not how they don't get it and think it's art. The joke is how they can't even get amateur porn right. Somebody please make that movie because it will be funny.

None of it is sweet because the characters are repulsively annoying. The actors work with it. Tim Blake Nelson has heart, Bridges is just desperate, Ted Danson is flamboyant. There's just nothing there.

The Amateurs won't even follow through. It's the ultimate copout. They don't even learn a lesson. They just get saved by a last ditch change of plans. Maybe there was a movie about lovable innocents getting into porn for the wrong reasons but learning a valuable lesson, but just thinking about that annoys me. Either do the sex comedy or do something else.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of First Look.
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