Douglas Katz makes his feature film directorial debut in the indie “Life in the Food Chain,” a time-warp satire about a young Wall Street executive who suffers “aging disorder,” which turns him into an old man. Formulaic narrative, monotonous performance by Jonathan Silverman and lack of comic vitality would restrict potential in theatrical markets, sending pic to homevideo and other specialized venues.
Set in the 1960s, tale begins with the birth of Seymour into a materialistic suburban Jewish family. Seymour’s childhood fantasy is to become an astronaut, but instead he goes to Harvard and gets a good job on Wall Street. Seymour becomes, as he says, “everything I never wanted to be.”
But he begins to suffer from a mysterious aging disorder; before long he talks, walks, and behaves like an 83-year-old man.
What ensues, in an only intermittently amusing concoction, is a series of encounters with his friends, parents, grandparents, doctor, psychiatrist, rabbi, etc.
“Life in the Food Chain” is modeled on premise similar to pix like “Big,” only more extreme. Satire contains a number of potentially hilarious situations, but they don’t gel.
Narrative is predictable, and once premise is spelled out, plot machinations become obvious. Story fades long before it works itself through.
The very structure is problematic, alternating dialogue scenes with voice-over narration and interviews addressed to the camera. Because helmer/scripter doesn’t trust his audience, he has his characters explain too much.
Acting of entire cast of pros is inexplicably mediocre. Rita Moreno as the mother, Robert Prosky as grandfather and Paul Sorvino as father all try hard to pump some life into their roles, but to no avail.
Worse yet is Silverman’s pedestrian and charmless performance in an admittedly demanding role. Typecast in Jewish roles (“Brighton Beach Memoirs” on stage and screen), Silverman takes a heavy-handed approach, beginning with overblown Yiddish accent.
Debuting director exhibits low aptitude for satire, particularly pacing, loading on exposition and belaboring comic set-ups.
Tech credits and behind-the-scenes contributions are modest. Mike Spillar’s lensing is functional but lacks visual power.