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I’m Breathing So I Guess I’m Still Alive; Even If Signs Seem To Tell Me Otherwise

By Brian Prisco | Film Reviews | January 12, 2010 | Comments ()

By Brian Prisco | Film Reviews | January 12, 2010 |

Tommy Zelda (Tim Allen) just got out of prison after a three-year sentence for pirating DVDs. He moves in with his compulsive liar sister Vicky (Sigourney Weaver) and her overly-affectionate-hands-on-with-the-missus husband, Ed (J.K. Simmons). Oh, and their mother lives with them -- who is convinced Tommy spent the last three years in France with an astronaut fiancee. Considering that I thought the premise of the film was that Tommy was trying to hide his prison sentence from the rest of the family, I was throughly disappointed to realize that the wacky hijinks were mostly relegated to Vicky being a huge liar.

Tommy wants to start up his father's industrial house-painting company again, but his probation officer (Jeanne Tripplehorn) gets him a job at Pirate Burger instead. Get it? A former internet pirate is now selling pirate burgers? Ahyuck, ahuyck, ahyk. It's not like they're dealing in fishwiches or crabby patties, either; just burgers, which for some inexplicable reason they offer free delivery service. This is just one of the many things I had an opportunity to ponder while I stopped paying attention to the movie. It also gave them a chance to team him up with two other ex-cons, Edgar (Jon Gries, the nard-possessing wolfman from Monster Squad) and Rick (Malcolm Goodwin, one of the good stories from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men).

Tommy pines for his dead girlfriend Christy (Julie Bowen), who turns isn't actually dead, but is now shacking up with Frank DeFabergini (Kelsey Grammer), a high-end big-screen TV/used-car salesman. Meanwhile, Tommy's old partner Gray (Ray Liotta) wants to get Tommy back into the old life and split their $12 million business burning illegal DVDs for the Chinese.

Are you still paying attention at this point? Cause neither was I. I started checking out street signs in the background to see where in L.A. they were filming, since the movie took place in the Valley. So when my favorite part of the film was spotting the Hispanic Discotheque I drive past on my way to work, it says a lot for the quality of your film.

And it's not really a godawful film. The actors are all actually pretty good at their really badly crafted parts. They purely waste J.K. Simmons and Jon Gries, and Ray Liotta's putting in some of his finest work as a slimeball. You'd think Jeanne Tripplehorn would finally get a little street cred with "Big Love," but nah, she's basically playing a bland love interest. And while it's awesome to watch her kick ass and slice people up with her angular scowls, it's easy to forget what a really fun comedic actress Sigourney Weaver can be.

I don't know what prompted Tim Allen to pick this particular script above whatever else was offered. The material actually felt like it was written for a Timothy Olyphant like actor. Major plot points seem to revolve around people falling easily and madly in love with how cool Tommy Zelda is. Not that Tim Allen's not a nice guy, but I don't think women just throw themselves at him for marathon sex. And the young son of his probation officer is supposed to think he's super awesome and his mom should date him. Tim Allen's not exactly the dude all kids want to be their dad. Maybe like ten years ago back when he was shilling True Value with Family Feud Beard and tossing nuts and bolts into Pam Anderson's cleavage. But nowadays? Really?

Again, I've seen much more painful attempts to be funny. It just wasn't aiming for me, but rather the Pampers of the clans lining up to see Wild Hogs and Old Dogs and Lincoln Logs. I can respect that. There were a few AARP prospectees politely chuckling into their popcorn at the screening I attended. But even they started to wane after awhile, and by the end nobody was laughing. It would be like watching back to back to back episodes of the same CBS sitcom for two hours. I can't even remember enough about it to muster up rage. It's like yawning during a boxing match. Anyway, I'd like to see Tim Allen get a little edgy next time out -- a nice little dark indie comedy. But this? Feh.

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