Review: ‘Erasable You’

There is an appealing sense of twisted satire at the heart of "Erasable You," but it is not enough to sustain this uneven attempt to construct a Coen Brothers--type black comedy. The central idea --- that a desperate guy turns to a hit man to eliminate his ex-wife --- has all kinds of comic potential, and pic boasts some fairly funny moments along the way. But the comedy runs out of steam long before the final credits roll, and the film isn't helped by a rather lackluster set of thesps. Indie effort will be a tough sell.

There is an appealing sense of twisted satire at the heart of “Erasable You,” but it is not enough to sustain this uneven attempt to construct a Coen Brothers–type black comedy. The central idea — that a desperate guy turns to a hit man to eliminate his ex-wife — has all kinds of comic potential, and pic boasts some fairly funny moments along the way. But the comedy runs out of steam long before the final credits roll, and the film isn’t helped by a rather lackluster set of thesps. Indie effort will be a tough sell.

Pic kicks off with quick rundown of Brian’s (Timothy Busfield) sorry life to date. His first marriage fell apart and now his bitter ex, Stephanie (Jennifer Grant), who lives to shop, is intent on extracting every last penny from her former hubby, who has since tied the knot with the much nicer Calamity (Melora Hardin). The netresult is that Stephanie, a caricature of consumerism-gone-crazy , is lounging around a Hollywood mansion while Brian and Calamity have to make do with a ramshackle apartment down in the hood.

In one of the funnier scenes, a couple they know casually mention over dinner that they had a professional killer bump off the husband’s first wife, and Brian and Calamity decide that’s just the solution for their ongoing problems with Stephanie. Unsurprisingly, the hit man they hire mucks up the job. The far-fetched yarn is complicated further when the killer falls in love with Calamity and Stephanie hooks up with a psycho billionaire (M. Emmet Walsh) whose daughter, Brat, tries to murder her dad.

Helmer Harry Bromley-Davenport pushes the limits of wackiness with the tall tale, and that’s what keeps it entertaining.

There are a few moments of inspired comedy, including the scene in which the bank manager, who is about to turn down Brian and Calamity’s loan application, readily agrees to give them the dough when he learns that they’re going to use the money to kill Brian’s first wife. Eventually, though, the satirical strokes become too broad, the points made too obvious.

Busfield is aptly cast as the advertising exec who is failing miserably at work and in his personal life. The other cast members deliver undistinguished performances. Tech credits are just OK.

Erasable You

(COMEDY)

Production

A Dorian production. (International sales: Soho Entertainment, New York.) Produced by Harry Bromley-Davenport, Krish Mani. Directed by Harry Bromley-Davenport. Screenplay, Daryl Haney.

Crew

Camera (color), Ricardo Gale; music, Emilio Kauderer; production designer, Yvette Taylor; costumes, Angela Dawn Alderson. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (Cinema of Today), Aug. 30, 1998. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Brian ..... Timothy Busfield Stephanie ..... Jennifer Grant Calamity ..... Melora Hardin Ralph Worth ..... M. Emmet Walsh
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