Intermittently engaging but suffering from a schematic, repetitive structure, "The Sky Is Falling" is a romantic comedy about a bright young novelist who suffers one humiliation after another before embarking on an odyssey toward self-esteem. The film is decently acted by lead Dedee Pfeiffer, and boasts a bravura supporting turn from Teri Garr, as protag's psychic mother. Trimming pic by 15 minutes will increase its theatrical prospects.

Intermittently engaging but suffering from a schematic, repetitive structure, “The Sky Is Falling” is a romantic comedy about a bright young novelist who suffers one humiliation after another before embarking on an odyssey toward self-esteem. The film is decently acted by lead Dedee Pfeiffer, and boasts a bravura supporting turn from Teri Garr, as protag’s psychic mother. Trimming pic by 15 minutes will increase its theatrical prospects.

Pfeiffer plays Emily Hall, whose life goes into a tailspin when her first book is repeatedly rejected by publishers. Compounding her misery is a breakup with longtime b.f. Mike (Eric Close), who’s afflicted with a typical male malaise: inability to commit. It doesn’t help that Emily’s friend Amber (Laura Leighton) leaves for an acting project in Mexico, or that her mother (Garr) reveals the shocking news that Emily’s father, presumed dead, is a hippie photographer named Yogi (Howard Hesseman). Latter has just arrived in town to meet her.

Surrounded by stories of professional success and friends getting married, Emily sinks into a depression, refusing to attend her 10-year high school reunion to avoid further public disgrace. Plot is structured as a downward-spiral journey, in which she crosses paths with various eccentric and negative people, including a chain-smoking Santa Claus (Chris Elliott) and an obnoxiously childish literary agent (a cameo by Sean Astin) who’s more intrigued by toys than books.

Faced with the depressing reality of being a total failure at 28, Emily lets her imagination go wild, envisioning her suicide in gory terms. But this fantasy device, which punctuates the narrative, is humdrum and quickly becomes tiresome.

Almost redeeming such flaws is a relationship Emily develops while volunteering at a local hospital. An irascible patient, Mr. Finch (Burt Remsen), becomes the instrument through which she restores faith in her talent. But like most mainstream romantic comedies of the 1990s, “The Sky Is Falling” panders to viewers, particularly in its soupy, predictable ending.Pic is not particularly well-directed, but first-time writer-helmer Florrie Laurence shows facility with sprightly dialogue and creates interesting secondary characters. Pfeiffer gives a passable performance. It’s Garr, however, who gives pic a shot of much-needed energy with her expert line delivery. Tech credits are proficient, especially David Parks’ lensing, but yarn seriously overextends its welcome.

The Sky Is Falling

(ROMANTIC COMEDY)

Production

A StellarQuest production. Produced by David Parks, Brad Hall. Executive producer, Howard Kazanjian. Directed, written by Florrie Laurence.

Crew

Camera (color), David Parks; editor, Peggy Davis; music, Adam Fields; production designer, Jocelyn Bly Fredman; costume designer, Erin Farrell; visual effects, John Decker; casting, Amy McIntyre Britt. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival, Austin, Texas, March 13, 1999. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Emily Hall ..... Dedee Pfeiffer Mona Hall ..... Teri Garr Yogi Cook ..... Howard Hesseman Mike ..... Eric Close Amber ..... Laura Leighton Mr. Finch ..... Bert Remsen Janie ..... Lorraine Toussaint Santa Claus ..... Chris Elliott Mr. Shwartz ..... Sean Astin
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