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The Pallbearer

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Pallbearer

Starring: David Schwimmer, Gwyneth Paltrow
Director: Matt Reeves
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: May 1996
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Barbara Hershey, Michael Rapaport, Carol Kane, Toni Collette, Bitty Schram, Michael Vartan, Jean De Baer, Edoardo Ballerini

Review by Andrew Hicks
2 stars out of 4

Here's to you Mrs. Robinson... One of everybody's "Friends," David Schwimmer, stars in this dull retread of THE GRADUATE. He's definitely no Dustin Hoffman, and he can't carry a movie either. The supporting cast -- Gwenyth Paltrow, Barbara Hershey and the always-underused Michael Rapaport -- do their best, but a ship with Schwimmer as skipper will always sink whether the cargo is talented or not. Add in some bad writing and direction that can't tell if it wants to be bold or conventional and you're ready to bury THE PALLBEARER six feet under.

Now that I've thoroughly trashed the movie, I'll recount the main plot to you -- a young man has an affair first with a much-older woman, then realizes it's a younger woman he wants to spend time with. The main difference is that Paltrow isn't Hershey's daughter, not to mention that Hershey is actually looking good, unlike Anne Bancroft in THE GRADUATE (sorry, Mel). I know Hershey's had plastic surgery out the wazoo, but if any twentyish guy was asked to "console" her in the manner she suggests, I don't imagine he'd offer too many objections.

But even if it isn't a direct plot-lift from the 1967 Hoffman classic, they steal enough from another film to be guilty of double-plagiarism. Here's how the movie begins -- a group of old friends get together over the death of a friend and then proceed to bond over a period of several days. It's the Generation X version of THE BIG CHILL and again, there's only difference. This time, the dead guy isn't Kevin Costner but some guy none of the friends can seem to remember. But Hershey, the greiving mother, tells Schwimmer that as the best friend of the departed, he should be the one to read the eulogy.

Can you see the situation comedy ramifications of such a thing? Poor Ross doesn't even remember this guy and he has to deliver a eulogy about him. He looks in his old yearbook and all he can find on the dead guy is that he was in the chess club. So he's pretty much screwed, and without any help from Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe. I have to mention the other five "Friends" because Schwimmer is completely annoying without any of them to counteract his whining. That show has gone downhill too but looks like classic comedy next to this dead comedy.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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