Drop Back Ten

Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that "Drop Back Ten" never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them --- e.g., Diane Lane in "My New Gun," Lukas Haas in "Boys." But this time the human landscape is so cipher-like we can't identify with Pete's choices.

With:
Peter Barnes ..... James LeGros Mindy Deal ..... Amber Valletta Spanks Voley ..... Desmond Harrington Tom White ..... Josh Lucas Peggy ..... Jodie Markell Viv ..... Laila Robins Amanda Bennett ..... Penny Balfour Pamela Berry ..... Ilana Levine Joy ..... Kelly De Martino Gil ..... Eddie Kaye Thomas Harriet Deal ..... Courtney Jines Wally Bixer ..... Tate Donovan An endearing performance by James LeGros is the only spot-on factor in "Drop Back Ten," a shaggy-dog comedy-drama which otherwise plays so low-key it scarcely registers. Superficial overlaps with writer-director Stacy Cochran's previous features --- the underrated screwball exercise "My New Gun" and misfired Winona Ryder vehicle "Boys" --- only underline this poky pic's lack of energy, style and credibility. Early quirky humor provides a minor sales point, but hapless treatment later on of domestic violence pretty much cancels out any goodwill. Tube and tape engagements will be wan. LeGros, underutilized since a run of dopey-but-decent sidekick roles ("Drugstore Cowboy," "Gun Crazy") and ensembler showcases ("Living in Oblivion's" memorable Brad Pitt parody) plays another amiable loser here. His Pete Barnes has just lost a daily newspaper job through sheer inertia, his expose tome on NFL players won the enthusiastic interest of several lawsuits, and g.f. Peggy (Jodie Markell) is married, bored and fed up with him. Less desperate than he should be, given the circumstances, Pete wins a magazine assignment from loyal editor Tom (Josh Lucas, radiating more empathy than can be believed). The catch: It's a tabloidy feature on football-related "reincarnation." Athletic, allegedly 19-year-old Spanks Voley (Desmond Harrington) is playing the lead in a low-budget gridiron pic being shot around Wilmington, N.C.; his past is cloudy, his future bright. But a face-rearranging blow from a mysterious assailant gets him dumped from the shoot. Pete tries to suss out Spanks' real story --- which involves a highly aggrieved ex-wife (Amber Valletta as Mindy) and doleful young daughter, plus weaselly changes of name, age and career. It's clear Mindy is looking for some payback. She starts with that nose dislocation. Though scene rhythms are off from the start, there's an amusingly chaotic tone to the treatment Pete gets from the wary movie crew --- especially high-strung producer Wally (Tate Donovan), whose frantic leash-yanking provokes the journalist's blase disbelief. But the colorful film-within-film characters vanish all too soon. After a dull stretch in which Pete plays intermediary between two angry, estranged ex-spouses, he returns home to file his story. Inexplicably, he can't get withdrawn Mindy out of his mind, despite scant time spent together and even less encouragement on her part. In an ill-judged sequence, he returns to plead his case with her --- belligerently enough to terrify Mindy's once-abused, still-skittish offspring. Meanwhile, Spanks finds himself exposed in print as a wife-beater and fraud. There are vague suggestions that ... um, he'd just never thought of it that way before, and will try to be good from now on.

Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the human landscape is so cipher-like we can’t identify with Pete’s choices.

Still, watching LeGros muddle through is the best pic has to offer. Rather doughy-looking and boyish in an immature way, he lends his lines a one-beat-behind unpredictability that’s both earnest and droll. That’s fortunate , since hackneyed dialogue (“Don’t do this — please!”) abounds. Model-turned-actress Valletta is a weak foil; her Uma Thurman-esque looks don’t salvage a petulant, flat interp. Fellow newcomer Harrington (“The Messenger”) has understandable trouble connecting the dots in Spanks’ character, despite some bright moments. Other perfs are often wry, but at the mercy of sketchy scenario.

Mediocre lensing and Pat Irwin’s bland soft-rock score underline pic’s half-hearted air. Other tech contribs are adequate.

Drop Back Ten

Production: An E Films production. Produced by Stacy Cochran. Supervising producer, Molly Bradford. Co-producer, Todd Thaler. Directed, written by Stacy Cochran.

Crew: Camera (color), Spencer Newman; editor, Nancy I. Novak; music, Pat Irwin; production designer, Lucy Corrigan; art director, Charlotte Bourke; costumes, Sarah Beers; sound, Dan Ferat; associate producers, Todd Thaler, Isen Robbins; casting, Thaler. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 22, 2000. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: Peter Barnes ..... James LeGros Mindy Deal ..... Amber Valletta Spanks Voley ..... Desmond Harrington Tom White ..... Josh Lucas Peggy ..... Jodie Markell Viv ..... Laila Robins Amanda Bennett ..... Penny Balfour Pamela Berry ..... Ilana Levine Joy ..... Kelly De Martino Gil ..... Eddie Kaye Thomas Harriet Deal ..... Courtney Jines Wally Bixer ..... Tate Donovan An endearing performance by James LeGros is the only spot-on factor in "Drop Back Ten," a shaggy-dog comedy-drama which otherwise plays so low-key it scarcely registers. Superficial overlaps with writer-director Stacy Cochran's previous features --- the underrated screwball exercise "My New Gun" and misfired Winona Ryder vehicle "Boys" --- only underline this poky pic's lack of energy, style and credibility. Early quirky humor provides a minor sales point, but hapless treatment later on of domestic violence pretty much cancels out any goodwill. Tube and tape engagements will be wan. LeGros, underutilized since a run of dopey-but-decent sidekick roles ("Drugstore Cowboy," "Gun Crazy") and ensembler showcases ("Living in Oblivion's" memorable Brad Pitt parody) plays another amiable loser here. His Pete Barnes has just lost a daily newspaper job through sheer inertia, his expose tome on NFL players won the enthusiastic interest of several lawsuits, and g.f. Peggy (Jodie Markell) is married, bored and fed up with him. Less desperate than he should be, given the circumstances, Pete wins a magazine assignment from loyal editor Tom (Josh Lucas, radiating more empathy than can be believed). The catch: It's a tabloidy feature on football-related "reincarnation." Athletic, allegedly 19-year-old Spanks Voley (Desmond Harrington) is playing the lead in a low-budget gridiron pic being shot around Wilmington, N.C.; his past is cloudy, his future bright. But a face-rearranging blow from a mysterious assailant gets him dumped from the shoot. Pete tries to suss out Spanks' real story --- which involves a highly aggrieved ex-wife (Amber Valletta as Mindy) and doleful young daughter, plus weaselly changes of name, age and career. It's clear Mindy is looking for some payback. She starts with that nose dislocation. Though scene rhythms are off from the start, there's an amusingly chaotic tone to the treatment Pete gets from the wary movie crew --- especially high-strung producer Wally (Tate Donovan), whose frantic leash-yanking provokes the journalist's blase disbelief. But the colorful film-within-film characters vanish all too soon. After a dull stretch in which Pete plays intermediary between two angry, estranged ex-spouses, he returns home to file his story. Inexplicably, he can't get withdrawn Mindy out of his mind, despite scant time spent together and even less encouragement on her part. In an ill-judged sequence, he returns to plead his case with her --- belligerently enough to terrify Mindy's once-abused, still-skittish offspring. Meanwhile, Spanks finds himself exposed in print as a wife-beater and fraud. There are vague suggestions that ... um, he'd just never thought of it that way before, and will try to be good from now on.

More Film

  • Solo A Star Wars Story

    'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Stumbles Overseas With $65 Million Launch

    Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the […]

  • 'Solo': What That Surprise Cameo Means

    'Solo': What a 'Character Too Secret to Ever Name' Means for the 'Star Wars' Spinoff

    Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the […]

  • Rebel Wilson and Taye Diggs

    Concert Review: 'Beauty and the Beast' Gets Adoring Tribute at Hollywood Bowl

    Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the […]

  • Solo a Star Wars Story Deadpool

    It's Official: Deadpool Is Now Cooler Than Han Solo

    Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the […]

  • solo a star wars story

    Box Office: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Headed for Underwhelming Holiday Weekend Debut

    Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the […]

  • solo a star wars story

    How the Kasdans Settled the Biggest Debate in 'Star Wars' History With 'Solo'

    Those domestic violence issues are so poorly supported, and the relationships that survive them so sloppily drawn, that “Drop Back Ten” never has a chance at emotional impact. Cochran likes fuzzy protags a bit stumped by everyone around them — e.g., Diane Lane in “My New Gun,” Lukas Haas in “Boys.” But this time the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content