×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Duane Hopwood

What "The Good Girl" did for his "Friends" co-star Jennifer Aniston, "Duane Hopwood" may do for David Schwimmer. Pic gives the under-appreciated actor a full-course role about a character who's surrounded by failure on every side. Script never treats characters as less than human, and pic could find an aud with careful handling.

With:
Duane Hopwood - David Schwimmer Linda - Janeane Garofalo Anthony - Judah Friedlander Gina - Susan Lynch Fred - Dick Cavett Steve - Steven R. Schirippa

What “The Good Girl” did for his “Friends” co-star Jennifer Aniston, “Duane Hopwood” may do for David Schwimmer. Pic gives the under-appreciated actor a full-course role about a character who’s surrounded by failure on every side. Writer-director Matt Mulhern confidently anchors his drama-comedy about an alcoholic Atlantic City pit boss with good writing and sharp dialogue. Script never treats characters as less than human, and, though it ultimately feels slight, pic could find an aud with careful handling.

Opening title montage shows cheerful domestic scenes with titular husband and dad Duane (Schwimmer), his wife Linda (Janeane Garofalo) and their daughters Mary (Ramya Pratt) and Kate (Rachel Covey). These scenes give way to Duane’s shadier side as he gets drunk at a bar.

After Duane is stopped for drunk driving with daughter Kate in the backseat, scene changes to Duane and Linda facing off in court. That Linda remains a woman who still loves Duane while fearing his lack of responsibility, instead of her character being reduced to that of a bitter divorcee, is a measure of the pic’s human tone.Slotting the outstanding Garofalo in the part, quite distant from both her caustic comic persona and her political activist self, marks one of many casting triumphs here.

As if his family life isn’t bad enough, Duane runs into trouble at work at Caesar’s Palace as well. A security camera catches Duane appeasing a loudmouth gambler with some cash, and his casino boss Carl (Jerry Grayson, dead-on as a blend of taskmaster and father figure) is finally compelled to let Duane go.

The only emotional cushion Duane can fall back on is clownish pal Anthony (Judah Friedlander, giddily scene-grabbing here as he was in “American Splendor”), who works as a casino guard but still dreams of a stand-up career in his late 30s.

The Anthony scenes set off a comic stream that runs through the film, and, though Mulhern at times alternates the funny and the sad in a much-too-calculated fashion, “Duane Hopwood” is finally a movie with an authentic core, deeply concerned about a good man who can’t overcome his worst weaknesses. At its best, pic reps a caring sensibility toward people that’s too often lacking in American comedies.

The movie never lets Duane off the hook, so he must face seeing his daughters (in brief scenes, Pratt and Covey are marvelous) and Linda slip away from him, and he never quite deals with his alcoholism. Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with Anthony and amusing neighbor Fred (Dick Cavett, delivering lines with perfect timing) is all Duane has as he faces an uncertain future.

Mulhern, an actor returning to feature helming after a seven-year break (little-seen “Walking to the Waterline,” 1998), allows his camera to ponder Schwimmer’s life-worn face and eyes drooping under the weight of disappointments. Thesps clearly lap up the tasty but never show-offy dialogue, and smartly choose to underplay.

The Jersey shoreline hasn’t looked this forlorn since the first season of “The Sopranos,” though one could quibble that Mauricio Rubinstein’s lensing is too washed-out and that Michael Rohayton’s score presses emotional notes too insistently. Production overall displays a strong connection with pic’s working-class milieu.

Duane Hopwood

Production: A Big Beach production in association with Elevation Filmworks. (International sales: Cinetic Media, New York.) Produced by Lemore Syvan, Marc Turtletaub, David Friendly. Co-producer, Andrew Lang. Directed, written by Matt Mulhern.

Crew: Camera (Efilm color, Super 16-to-35 mm), Mauricio Rubenstein; editor, Tom McArdle; music, Michael Rohayton; production designer, Benjamin Conable; costume designer, Lynn Falconer; sound, T.J. O'Mara, Stuart Deutsch; sound designer, 701 Sound; supervising sound editors, Marlena Grzaslewicz, Ira Spiegel; line producer, Ethan Smith; associate producer/assistant director, John M. Tyson; casting, Cindy Tolan. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (American Spectrum), Jan. 23, 2005. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: Duane Hopwood - David Schwimmer Linda - Janeane Garofalo Anthony - Judah Friedlander Gina - Susan Lynch Fred - Dick Cavett Steve - Steven R. SchirippaWith: Jerry Grayson, Bill Buell, John Krasinski, Ramya Pratt, Rachel Covey.

More Film

  • Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japan-Set

    Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japanese Film 'Family Romance'

    London-based sales house Film Constellation has boarded Oscar-winning director Werner Herzog’s highly anticipated Japanese-language film “Family Romance” which will have its world premiere in the special screenings section at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Herzog, the movie shot last spring and summer in Japan in Tokyo and Aomori with non-professional Japanese actors [...]

  • Avengers Endgame Box Office: Can It

    'Avengers: Endgame' Expected to Shatter Box Office Records

    “Avengers: Endgame” has its sights set on world domination. Disney and Marvel’s upcoming superhero epic should light the box office on fire when it launches this weekend, with the hopes of setting domestic, international, and global records. In North America alone, “Avengers: Endgame” is expected to earn between $250 million and $268 million in its [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million on [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' Compensation Jumps 48% to $36.1 Million

    Netflix chief Reed Hastings is being handsomely rewarded for calling the shots at the streaming giant. His compensation package, which is largely in the form of stock options, climbed 48% in 2018 to $36.1 million. That’s up from $24.4 million in the previous year. Hastings’ salary is a relatively modest $700,000, but his stock options [...]

  • Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction

    Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction Rebellion Climate-Change Satire (EXCLUSIVE)

    Emma Thompson will play a climate-change activist in “Extinction,” a timely satirical short film that will include footage of the Extinction Rebellion group’s ongoing wave of action in London. Two-time Oscar winner Thompson has herself been involved in the high-profile London-based protests. She addressed crowds over the weekend from Extinction Rebellion’s signature pink boat, which [...]

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content