Review: ‘Hair Shirt’

Filled with superficial characters, stock situations and remarkably unfunny lines, "Hair Shirt" is an almost entirely unsuccessful attempt to craft a modern-day screwball comedy. First-time feature helmer Dean Paras mishandles both the humor and the romance, but pic's biggest problem is that the shallow characters will generate no viewer sympathy. Pic will be of interest only to hard-core fans of Neve Campbell, who delivers a supporting perf that is simply over the top. The star of the "Scream" pics and TV's "Party of Five" receives her first producing credit on the film.

Filled with superficial characters, stock situations and remarkably unfunny lines, “Hair Shirt” is an almost entirely unsuccessful attempt to craft a modern-day screwball comedy. First-time feature helmer Dean Paras mishandles both the humor and the romance, but pic’s biggest problem is that the shallow characters will generate no viewer sympathy. Pic will be of interest only to hard-core fans of Neve Campbell, who delivers a supporting perf that is simply over the top. The star of the “Scream” pics and TV’s “Party of Five” receives her first producing credit on the film.

Story revolves around Danny Reilly (Paras), a self-involved guy who’s gone through a succession of girlfriends, whom he usually nabs through lies and scams. One of his former gal pals is Renee Weber (Campbell), a bitter old flame who is determined to make sure Danny never manages to have a decent relationship with a woman. Meanwhile, Danny shares a house in Los Angeles with a demented roommate, Tim (Stefan Brogren), who has the disconcerting habit of talking nonstop.

Danny falls for actress Corey Wells (Katie Wright), but he soon runs into a couple of roadblocks. It turns out that Tim also has a crush on Corey, and, worse, Renee has taken it upon herself to let Corey know just exactly what kind of a creep Danny is. At the same time, Danny and Tim begin working on a horror film script, a collaboration that’s pretty well a failure from the kickoff. Goofy yarn is stretched even further afield by the presence of Danny’s old high school buddy Peter (David Deluise), who is the star of a cable access puppet show.

Paras’ script doesn’t provide any particular reason to care about these characters. The central relationship between Danny and Corey holds little interest, in part because Corey remains an enigma. The subplot about the Hollywood biz is woefully undeveloped as well. Most important, the laughs are few and far between, and the comic situations are all too predictable.

The only cast member who distinguishes himself is Brogren, who at least has some fun with his portrayal of the ultra-eccentric Tim. Campbell tries too hard to make Renee, a hot actress, seem like the ultimate Hollywood bitch.

Tech credits are just OK.

Hair Shirt

(COMEDY)

Production

A Lunatic Prods. production. (International sales: Bloom Hergott Diemer Cook & Klein, L.A.) Produced by Katie Wright, Dean Paras, Neve Campbell, Christian Campbell. Co-producer, Nate Tuck. Directed by Dean Paras. Screenplay, Paras, based on a story by Katie Wright, Paras, Nate Tuck.

Crew

Camera (color), Igor Jadue-Lillo; editor, Samuel Craven, John Axelrad; music, Nate Barr; costume designer, Maili Lafayette, Victoria Trilling; sound, Richard Taylor; associate producer, Elizabeth Weber; casting, Valorie Massalas. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 13, 1998. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Danny Reilly ..... Dean Paras Corey Wells ..... Katie Wright Renee Weber ..... Neve Campbell Kimberly ..... Kimberly Huie Tim ..... Stefan Brogren Peter Angelo ..... David Deluise
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