Hudson River Blues

Innocuous" is almost too strong a word to describe the Wonder Bread comedy-drama of "Hudson River Blues." Pseudo-wacky-family and marital turmoil investigated herein reps a first bigscreen effort by vet TV director Nell Cox ("L.A. Law," "MASH," "Falcon Crest," "The Waltons"), but pic's natural berth is a limited one on the small screen.

With:
Laura ..... Rya Kihlstedt Jeff ..... Robert Stanton Leslie ..... Polly Draper Diane ..... Jane Krakowski Julia ..... Lois Smith Grandpa ..... Mason Adams Will ..... Andre Gregory Teddy ..... Jordan Siwek Ron ..... Frederick Weller Bud ..... Harry O'Reilly Stan ..... David Margulies Charlotte ..... Tovah Feldshuh Dudley ..... Gregg Edelman Yago ..... Edward Hibbert Drena ..... Marylouise Burke

Innocuous” is almost too strong a word to describe the Wonder Bread comedy-drama of “Hudson River Blues.” Pseudo-wacky-family and marital turmoil investigated herein reps a first bigscreen effort by vet TV director Nell Cox (“L.A. Law,” “MASH,” “Falcon Crest,” “The Waltons”), but pic’s natural berth is a limited one on the small screen.

Startup production company moniker She’s Wired, He’s Tired sums up the dramatic thrust here all too succinctly. Laura (Rya Kihlstedt) is a high-powered Manhattan lawyer nervous about her potential upgrade to partner in her firm. Hubby Jeff (Robert Stanton) is a TV commercials producer sick of the urban rat race. Their weekend at her sculptor mom’s (Lois Smith) upstate home is occasioned by a senile granddad’s (Mason Adams) 85th birthday. But it’s also meant to jumpstart the couple’s juiceless romantic life.

Laura immediately ruffles spouse’s hair by taking cell phone and laptop along for the ride. Her siblings provide little comfort — Diane (Jane Krakowski) is a man-magnetizing aspiring singer, Leslie (Polly Draper) a divorcee expectant with second child. Meanwhile, Grandma entertains an amorous new suitor (Andre Gregory).

When Jeff proposes a career move to environmentalist concerns located near the in-law family’s bucolic residence, alienated yuppie Laura leaves him stranded on a lake isle. Then she has predictable second thoughts, leading to equally predictable close on a matrimonial-smooch freeze-frame.

This is all meant to seem deliciously bohemian, but it comes off pretty vanilla. Limp efforts at cutesy humor barely raise a grin, while dramatic components are rote at best. Perfs follow suit. Most telling element in a telecast-level-glossy tech package is Charlie Barnett’s original score, whose bland chirpiness approximates Muzak to a remarkable, albeit unconscious, degree.

Hudson River Blues

Production: A The Dog Lives Prods. production, in association with Gun for Hire, a division of the Shooting Gallery. Produced by Jennifer and John Manocherian. Directed by Nell Cox.

Crew: Camera (color), Michael Negrin; editor, David Leonard; music, Charlie Barnett; production design, Sharon Lomofsky; costumes, Leslie Yarmo; sound mixer, Frank Marrone; assistant director, Catherine Marie MacDonald; casting, Elissa Myers, Paul Fouquet. Reviewed at the Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, Sept. 16, 1997. (In Mill Valley Film Festival.) Running time: 89 MIN.

With: Laura ..... Rya Kihlstedt Jeff ..... Robert Stanton Leslie ..... Polly Draper Diane ..... Jane Krakowski Julia ..... Lois Smith Grandpa ..... Mason Adams Will ..... Andre Gregory Teddy ..... Jordan Siwek Ron ..... Frederick Weller Bud ..... Harry O'Reilly Stan ..... David Margulies Charlotte ..... Tovah Feldshuh Dudley ..... Gregg Edelman Yago ..... Edward Hibbert Drena ..... Marylouise Burke

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