A superficial but entertaining reverse-Cinderella tale in which a madcap heiress is cut off without a cent yet thrives on adversity, "The Trouble with Dee Dee" makes pushiness a virtue. Feel-good fun won't revive the golden era of screwball comedy but weaves all of its obnoxiousness into positive, life-affirming fluff with a thread of anarchy.

A superficial but infectiously entertaining reverse-Cinderella tale in which a madcap heiress is cut off without a cent yet thrives on adversity, “The Trouble with Dee Dee” makes pushiness a virtue. Silly romp, which blends social obliviousness with innate generosity, centers on a gung-ho perf from Lisa Ann Walter as the titular 42-year-old single mom whose fabulously wealthy dad revokes her bottomless allowance. Feel-good fun won’t revive the golden era of screwball comedy but weaves all of its obnoxiousness into positive, life-affirming fluff with a thread of anarchy.

Irrepressible Dee Dee Bridgewater (Walter) — a sort of Unsinkable Molly Brown for the 21st century — is caught going 39 mph in a 35 mph zone without a license but sweet-talks her way out of a ticket. Of course, Dee Dee’s brand of sweet talk is akin to an impatient bulldozer flattening all resistance.

Her handsome and long-suffering gay son Christopher (Mason Gamble) and faithful Polish handyman Yugo (J.P. Manoux) make dry observations about being reduced to sidekicks for a force of nature.

Dee Dee’s patient father Bill (Kurtwood Smith) warns his only daughter that she must attend the next board meeting of the foundation he oversees or suffer the consequences.

She plays hooky and soon finds her stack of credit cards deactivated. Not sure where money comes from, as she’s never had to earn any, Dee Dee ends up living at the homeless shelter that the previous day was relying on her forthcoming donation to expand. But a little thing like destitution can’t discourage the ever-resourceful Dee-Dee. And it doesn’t hurt that her culinary taste runs to Oreos and Coca-Cola rather than champagne and foie gras.

Walter is a hoot, sitcomish one-liners mostly hit the spot and Swingle Singers-style score amuses. Second City-trained scripter-helmer Mike Meiners infuses the visually modest but peppy pic with a grounded, can-do Chicago tone.

The Trouble With Dee Dee

Production

A Cinemetro Films presentation of a Cinemetro Films production. (International sales: Cinemetro Films, Chicago.) Produced by Mike Meiners, Bob Brown. Directed, written by Mike Meiners.

Crew

Camera (color), David Blood; editor, Sharon Zurek; music, Adam Berry; production designer, Larry Lundy; art director, Tanja Deshida; costume designer, Mim Hoffman; sound (Dolby), Adam Frick, Alex Riordan; associate producer, Janese Horton. Reviewed on videotape at Chicago Film Festival ("Focus: USA," noncompeting) Oct. 11, 2005. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Lisa Ann Walter, Kurtwood Smith, Mason Gamble, J.P. Manoux, John M. Watson Sr., Saralynne Crittenden.
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