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The Pleasure of Your Company

There's precious little pleasure to be had among the aggregation of mannered, eccentric losers in slapstick misfire "The Pleasure of Your Company." A gratingly laborious romantic comedy that plays like a post-everything episode of "Love, American Style," pic will find little company beyond desperate vidstore hounds.

Cast:
With: Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Joe Pantoliano, Joanna Gleason, Edward Herrmann, Margo Martindale, Michael Weston, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Heather Goldenhersh, Jay O. Sanders, Robert Corddry.

There’s precious little pleasure to be had among the aggregation of mannered, eccentric losers in slapstick misfire “The Pleasure of Your Company.” A gratingly laborious romantic comedy that plays like a post-everything episode of “Love, American Style,” pic will find little company beyond desperate vidstore hounds.

A year after literally scaring his fiancee to death by dressing up like cupid to propose at an upscale eatery, Anderson (Jason Biggs) is urged by acerbic chum Ted (Michael Weston) to dive back into the dating pool.

Taking the advice a bit too much to heart, he immediately proposes to a waitress, Katie (Isla Fisher), at the Kings Arms Diner. She, however, has issues of her own, including a controlling mom, Lois (Joanna Gleason), and a jailbird dad, Smitty (Joe Pantoliano).

Other bumps on the road to unlikely wedded bliss are Anderson’s oversexed parents, Betsy (Margo Martindale) and Lyle (Edward Herrmann); odd couple Matador (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Jane (Heather Goldenhersh); and a confused sheriff (Jay O. Sanders) and his deputy (Robert Corddry).

Self-conscious, derivative and shrill, pic exhibits a forced jollity that is cumulatively wearying. Writer-helmer Michael Ian Black is a comedian best known for hosting VH1’s “I Love the…” series and numerous appearances on “Celebrity Poker Showdown.” As skilled as he may be on the latter, this comedic bigscreen gamble displays all the smug superficiality of the former.

Biggs is a walking cliche as a variation on his “American Pie” character, while Fisher takes a step backward from the wacko she played opposite Vince Vaughn in “Wedding Crashers.” Vets Gleason, Pantoliano, Martindale, Sanders, and particularly Herrmann, are to be applauded for masking their embarrassment.

The Pleasure of Your Company

Production: A GreeneStreet Films, Fugitive Films production. (International sales: GreeneStreet Films Intl., New York.) Produced by John Penotti, Jamie Gordon, Sam Hoffman, Courtney Potts. Executive producers, Fisher Stevens, Bruna Papandrea, Tim Williams. Directed, written by Michael Ian Black.

Crew: Camera (color, HDCam), Daniel J. Stoloff; editors, Greg Hayden, Alan Oxman; music, Peter Nashel; production designer, Carl Sprague; costume designer, Frank Fleming; sound (Dolby Digital), Lew Goldstein; casting, Amanda Koblin, Amanda Harding. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 11, 2006. Running time: 90 MIN.

Cast: With: Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Joe Pantoliano, Joanna Gleason, Edward Herrmann, Margo Martindale, Michael Weston, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Heather Goldenhersh, Jay O. Sanders, Robert Corddry.

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