The Boston Phoenix
Review from issue: September 7 - 14, 2000

[Boston Film Festival]

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Enemies of Laughter

A Phoenix pick

One enemy of laughter might be hifalutin titles like this one. But don't be put off: Joseph Travolta's portrait of a playwright as a sit-com-writing shmuck serves up the kind of dry, self-effacing and erudite hilarity once associated with Woody Allen comedies. David Paymer as self-proclaimed failure Paul Helpern is a major reason the film works so well: his deadpan one-liners sting, and his expression switches from incredulity to bemusement to utter horror as his life becomes the subject of a disparaging student documentary. Not that Paul needs any help in disparaging himself -- his dream of becoming a great artist has faded into inane comedy-writing sessions (a hysterical reminder of how far we've come from The Dick Van Dyke Show) and tragi-comic blind dates at his favorite restaurant. ("You have beautiful eyes," says a prospect played by Marilu Henner. "Especially the right one.") The stellar cast are all allies of laughter, including Peter Falk and Bea Arthur as Paul's dyspeptic parents, Judge Reinhold as an insinuating slacker neighbor, and Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: TNG) as the woman who might save his soul. Screens Thursday, September 14th at 1, 3:15, and 5:15 p.m.

-- Peter Keough

Film Festival Feature Films

Shadow of the Vampire | Songcatcher | Venus Beauty Institute | What's Cooking? | The Broken Hearts Club | Envy | Goya in Bordeaux | Human Resources | Skipped Parts | Amargosa | Henry Hill | Relative Values | The Rising Place | The Contender | Pitch People | Roof to Roof | Four Dogs Playing Poker | Reckless Indifference | Requiem for a Dream | Shadow Magic | About Adam | Charming Billy | Enemies of Laughter | Into the Arms of Strangers | Running on the Sun | A Trial in Prague | Harry, He's Here to Help | A Man is Mostly Water | Seven Girlfriends

Also, Boston Film Festival short films

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