There’s probably an audience out there for “Men Lie,” but it will take a savvy distrib with niche-marketing skills to find it. Word of mouth could generate pleasing B.O. in urban markets. Vid and pay TV prospects are brighter.
Small-budget, N.Y.-lensed indie is a smartly written and cleverly constructed comedy with just a hint of early Woody Allen. Basic plotline has two-faced Scott (Doug DeLuca) swearing fidelity to his beautiful fiancee, Jill (Ellia Thompson), even while he attempts to bed every woman who crosses his path. In this amatory pursuit, the young man is greatly encouraged by his heartily sleazy uncle (Frank Vincent), the sort of guy who would try to settle a sexual harassment suit by sending flowers to the complainant.
All this is interesting enough and reasonably well acted, though a trifle stilted at times. But it’s not the whole story. Director/writer John Andrew Gallagher repeatedly interrupts the main action for on-camera declarations by “witnesses” (an eclectic mix of New York actors and celebrities) who provide commentaries and counterpoints to the Scott-and-Jill story.
The female witnesses — including Aida Turturro, Judith Malina, Marilyn Sokol and Catherine Scorsese — are especially hilarious as they offer withering put-downs of two-timing men in general and Scott in particular. Think of it as a Greek chorus with attitude.
“Men Lie” doesn’t exactly cover new ground. But it does provide some zingy one-liners, a few dead-on insights and enough informed observations on the war between the sexes to keep couples laughing while they’re watching the pic, and arguing when discussing it afterward. It has the potential to develop a cult following among women who have heard all the evasions and excuses the men offer here — in other words, among all women.
While no one will accuse the pic of excessive slickness, Gallagher has made the absolute most of what obviously was a limited budget. Ernie Mannix’s music is particularly effective.