Review: ‘The Courtyard’

Body parts litter an upscale L.A. housing complex called Shangri-La (not to be confused with the swank Santa Monica hotel), yet, in a departure for the cable net, skin scenes between topliners Andrew McCarthy and Madchen Amick seem heavily edited.

Body parts litter an upscale L.A. housing complex called Shangri-La (not to be confused with the swank Santa Monica hotel), yet, in a departure for the cable net, skin scenes between topliners Andrew McCarthy and Madchen Amick seem heavily edited.

Architect Jonathan Hoffman (a wide-eyed McCarthy) is pitted against fellow residents after moving from New York to work on a mini-mall project. A young drug dealer is brutally slain and Hoffman thinks it’s because he lied about which unit he occupies when complaining to a noisy neighbor.

Hoffman gets involved with the dead guy’s sister (a wan Amick) and guiltily tries to solve the case. Cheech Marin is the detective who suspects him. Script is random in many respects and skimps on treatment of the villains. Courtyard denizens and secondary characters are too general — an absurdly threatening super, an insane dog lover, a frayed journalist, a medical examiner who jokes about the smell and rushes home to dinner.

Director Fred Walton lets loose in the last third, where all the interesting bits have been crammed. Before that he uses a video interlude to recap events, in case viewers are lost or have missed something. Christopher Faloona tries to spell jeopardy with camerawork, as does Mark Mothersbaugh with music.

They fail to make up for two feckless central characters and perfs, and the notion that L.A. is a town without pity. Vidpic includes a strange product placement — a bill from Showtime in a tenant’s mail.

The Courtyard

(Sun. (24), 8-10 p.m., Showtime)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Haft/Nasatir Prods. in association with Showtime Entertainment Group. Executive producers, Marcia Nasatir, Steven Haft; co-producers, Chris Hawthorne, Patti Kent; director, Fred Walton; writers, Wendy Biller, Chris Hawthorne; camera, Christopher Faloona; editor, David Byron Lloyd; production designer, Stephen Greenberg; sound, James R. Einolf; music, Mark Mothersbaugh. #Cast: Andrew McCarthy, Madchen Amick, Cheech Marin, Vincent Schiavelli, David Packer, Bonnie Bartlett, David Proval, Jonathan Penner, Lara Piper, John Wesley, Channon Roe, Jan Hoag, Denver Mattson, Dot Jones, Craig Aldrich, David Nelson, Roderick Carr. Melrose Place" meets "Rear Window" in this Showtime vidpic -- a description that makes "The Courtyard" sound more entertaining than it actually is. Last half-hour doesn't redeem a desultory build up. Script, direction and perfs are on a similar sleepy level. Obvious atmospherics are derived from the idea that Los Angeles is wacky and spooky in equal measure, peopled with nuts touched by the sun.
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