Review: ‘Life on the Edge’

NEW YORK--The wafer-thin comedy "Life on the Edge" mildly mocks trendy West Coast types into New Age this and mystical that. Vanity production has few laughs, and its theatrical release is not going to draw flies.

NEW YORK–The wafer-thin comedy “Life on the Edge” mildly mocks trendy West Coast types into New Age this and mystical that. Vanity production has few laughs, and its theatrical release is not going to draw flies.

With harsh lighting (pic was lensed at New World’s TV studios in 1989), pic’s faults show up unflatteringly on the big screen. Video and TV syndication are its best bets.

Feature debuting filmmaking team of Andrew Yates (director) and Mark Edens (writer) have concocted a sophomoric film that traps the viewer at an endless party populated by bores. Occasional bons mots and stupid double-entendres do not make the very long 78 minutes pass any faster.

Nebbish hero Jeff Perry is under the gun from the outset, with a day to come up with $ 100,000 to pay loan sharks from Las Vegas.

His money is sunk in a doomed condo project, Point Andreas. Attending a party at his neighbors’ home in the canyon with depressed wife Jennifer Holmes, he’s trapped there with the other guests following an earthquake (film’s shooting title was “The Big One”).

The quake destroys Perry’s home, and Point Andreas sinks into the Pacific Ocean. Situation comedy ensues, limning zaftig party hostess Greta Blackburn’s successful seductions of Perry and other guests; an impromptu lesbian love affair between performance artist Liz Sagal and newscaster Kat Sawyer-Young; and born-again Michael Tulin literally coming out of the closet in film’s only sure-fire gag.

Jennifer Edwards gives a cute Julie Haggerty-esque performance as a New Age faddist who’s into mystical pursuits like calling on Mothra (no, not the monster called to action by young native princesses in Japanese horror flicks) for spiritual guidance.

Film is most similar in format to her dad, Blake Edwards’, 1968 Peter Sellers’ vehicle “The Party,” but lacks that film’s fluid camerawork and physical shtick.

Last half of the film lamely stresses Perry’s misadventures as he tries to find host Andrew Prine’s hidden treasure trove of gold coins. Hokey finale, reminiscent of Steve De Jarnatt’s “Miracle Mile,” paints the lead characters into a corner and leaves them hanging.

Perry, who resembles a chunky U.S. version of Kenneth Branagh, isn’t funny with his one stupefied expression and poorly staged pratfalls. Rest of the cast overacts, including the late Thalmus Rasulala as a survivalist type.

Pic is unrated but would probably garner an R thanks to brief topless scenes featuring Sawyer-Young and Blackburn.

Life on the Edge

(Comedy--Color)

Production

A Festival Entertainment release of a Movers & Shakers production. Produced by Eric Lewald, Andrew Yates. Executive producer, Bill Yates. Directed by Andrew Yates. Screenplay, Mark Edens.

Crew

Camera (Foto-Kem color), Tom Fraser, Nicholas von Sternberg; editor, Armen Minasian; music, Mike Garson; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Clifford (Kip) Gynn; production design, Amy Van Tries; art direction, Greg P. Oehler; assistant directors, Randy Pope, Keith Carpenter; special visual effects supervisor, Barry A. Nolan; co-producer, Miriam Preissel; associate producer, Jesse Long; casting, Jean Sarah Frost. Reviewed at Magno Preview 4 screening room, N.Y., June 16, 1992. No MPAA rating. Running time: 78 min.

With

Ray Nelson ... Jeff Perry Karen Nelson ... Jennifer Holmes Joanie Hardy ... Greta Blackburn Roger Hardy ... Andrew Prine
With: Thalmus Rasulala, Martine Beswicke, Jennifer Edwards, Denny Dillon, Susan Powell, Kat Sawyer-Young, Tom Henschel, Liz Sagal, Ralph Bruneau, Ken Stoddard, Michael Tulin, Jessie Scott.
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