Review: ‘National Lampoon’s Favorite Deadly Sins Lust; Greed; Anger’



Director, Denis Leary; writer, Ann Lembeck; “Greed” and “Anger”

Director, David Jablin; writers, (“Greed”) Jim Mulholland, Michael Barrie, (“Anger”) Lee Biondi; camera, Jamie Thompson; production designers, (“Greed”) John C. Iacovelli, (“Anger”) Jefferson D. Sage; editor, Chris Ellis; sound, Craig Woods; music, Christopher Tyng.

Cast: (“Lust”): Denis Leary, Tanya Pohlkotte, Nicolas Russo, Annabella Sciorra, Brittany Slattery, David Butler, Zachary Miller, Emma Thaler, Saverio Guerra, Regan Kennedy, Gabriela May-Ladd; (“Anger”) Andrew Clay, Kenneth Randle, Be-Bee Smith, TedDavis, Susan Barnes, Clyde Kusatsu, Robert LaSardo, David Harris, Farrah Forke, Gerrit Graham, John Ducey; (“Greed”) Joe Mantegna, Cassidy Rae, William Ragsdale, Brian Keith, Lois Foraker, Caroline Key Johnson, Lee Everett, Allan Rich, Thomas Bellin, Christopher Carroll, Max Barrie, Dale Raoul, Patricia Belcher, Peggy Maltby, Eleanor Mondale, Charlene Tilton, Morgan Brittany, Gloria Allred, Robert Philibosian, Robert Culp, Ed Marinaro, Tanya Roberts, Pia Zadora.

Slapped with the National Lampoon moniker (which recently has been tainted by sophomoric, vulgar straight-to-video releases), these three witty meditations on deadly sins recall the outrageous humor and biting satire of the magazine’s heyday of the mid- to late-’70s, and can proudly carry the National Lampoon name.

NL made no apologies for its humor, which took swings at everyone and everything: Nothing was sacred and its parodies and satires were right on the mark. Even when the writing went to excess, it was still relevant in its pop-culture context.

Returning to this tradition, “Greed,” the strongest and longest of the trio, casts Joe Mantegna as Frank Musso (get it?), TV-movie-of-the-week packaging agent. Seg is very inside Hollywood, and might not play in Peoria, but its sendup of showbiz and the media is sophisticated and biting.

Musso needs a hit — no one at the networks is taking his calls — so he decides to create a media event himself: “The Cinderella Murderer.” By causing the headlines himself, he reasons, he won’t get muscled out of the TV rights.

Segment is a delicious skewering of how the media make a “star” and the avarice of exploitation, as well as the justice system. On the heels of the O.J. Simpson, trial, “Greed” is right on target.

“Lust,” directed by and starring Denis Leary and written by his wife, Ann Lembeck, also delivers an effective blow — this time to the male ego.

Leary is a museum security guard with two kids and a sometimes shrill nurse wife (Annabella Sciorra), whom he does love. One day he spots a beautiful woman in the apartment across the courtyard, and he spends a lot of time fantasizing about her, even — at least in his mind — coming thisclose to consummation.

Lembeck has a keen ear for how guys talk about sex and women, and she gives Leary and his fellow guard Eddie some scatologically funny riffs on the opposite sex. His fantasies are expertly woven into the narrative.

“Anger,” featuring Andrew Clay, is an over-the-top exploration of one really angry man. “Anger” rides the line of not being PC — which is what makes it the only laugh-out-loud segment. Clay is perfectly cast as the big bozo whose rants offend everyone within earshot.

Trio is expertly photographed and the production values are top quality.

National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins Lust; Greed; Anger

(Sun. (12), 8-9: 30 p.m., Showtime)


Filmed by Imagination Prods. in New York City and Los Angeles. Exec producer, David Jablin; producer, Peter Manoogian; supervising producer, Jeff Frelich.


Camera, Anthony Jannelli; editor, Michelle Gorchow; sound, Judy Karp; production design, Ruth Ammon; music, Adam Roth.
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