Review: ‘The Year of Getting to Know Us’

A mere plot summary tells you everything you need to know about "The Year of Getting to Know Us," an anemic grab-bag of Sundance cliches.

A mere plot summary tells you everything you need to know about “The Year of Getting to Know Us,” an anemic grab-bag of Sundance cliches. Jimmy Fallon becomes the latest funnyman with misguided aspirations to seriousness, tamping down his natural energy and screen presence to play an emotionally stunted commitment-phobe trying to make peace with his comatose dad. First-time helmer Patrick Sisam’s uneven comedy-drama achieves some nice moments thanks to a name cast that should attract some attention, but not enough to distinguish such prototypical indie fare in a crowded marketplace.

New York-based writer Chris Rocket (Fallon) heads home to Florida after his father (Tom Arnold) suffers a debilitating stroke. Regular flashbacks show how withholding dad, wacky mom (Sharon Stone) and their inevitable divorce turned Chris into an affection-starved man-child, incapable of committing to his beautiful, classy girlfriend (Lucy Liu). Painful quirkiness (Stone’s character is a video-blogger with orange hair) and slow-blooming catharsis are enlivened by sharp supporting turns from Tony Hale (“Arrested Development”) and the wonderful Illeana Douglas, who, Liu aside, reps pic’s lone refugee from the land of the emotionally well-adjusted. Tech credits are OK.

The Year of Getting to Know Us

Production

A Ring Prods., Inferno presentation of a Holly Wiersma production. (International sales: Inferno Distribution, Los Angeles.) Produced by Wiersma. Executive producers, Lawrence Najem, Ed Machek, Michael Ossi, Howard Butler, Sharon Stone, Jim Seibel, Lou Maggio, Lance Ringhaver, Bill Johnson. Co-producers, D. Scott Lumpkin, Laura D. Smith. Directed by Patrick Sisam. Screenplay, Sisam, Rick Velleu, based on the short stories "Star Food" and "The Year of Getting to Know Us" by Ethan Canin.

Crew

Camera (color), Lisa Rinzler; editors, Susan Shipton, David Codron; music, John Swihart; music supervisor, Chris Violette; costume designer, Jill Newell. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 24, 2008. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Jimmy Fallon, Sharon Stone, Tom Arnold, Chase Ellison, Tony Hale, Jordana Spiro, Bree Turner, Illeana Douglas, Lucy Liu.

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