Walk the Talk

A smart, funny take on the self-help industry has just the right combo of bite and heart to help "Walk the Talk" meet arthouse and sharper mainstream auds.

Erik Naybor - Cary Elwes Jill - Illeana Douglas Roy - Evan Ellingson Jessie - Katie Cassidy Cam - Chris Pratt Reed - Clayne Crawford

A smart, funny take on the self-help industry has just the right combo of bite and heart to help “Walk the Talk” meet arthouse and sharper mainstream auds. Lack of marquee wattage could see it stroll to HBO-type venues, where built-in viewers would take an instant shine to Cary Elwes’ career-goosing lead perf as an incorrigible podium thumper who struggles to practice what he preaches.

Exhorting his followers to “live the dream” and other diluted New Age homilies, Erik Naybor (Elwes) is a shorter, blonder Tony Robbins who lives in a terraced villa in the Hollywood Hills with perfect blond children and devoted-yet-feisty wife Jill (a somewhat underutilized Illeana Douglas), the better to push his successful life on tour and tube. Clan works out, travels and even sky-dives together, with frequent breaks for “conflict resolution.”

But their togetherness is tested when Erik’s teenage nephew gets into serious trouble. Faced with time in juvie, tough youngster Roy (impressive Evan Ellingson, seen on “24”) reluctantly agrees to let his semi-famous uncle take charge.

A life of dialoguing and health shakes does not come easily to the lad, who’s more used to cigarettes for breakfast and drugs for dessert. A little snooping, however, reveals that the good Naybors are not quite as squeaky-clean as they seem. Big cousin Cam (Chris Pratt) has a frat-boy mentality and a secret pot stash, and little sis Jessie (Katie Cassidy) is a bit of tease. Erik himself has some simmering anger issues, and Jill is starting to fret about hubby’s lack of interest in sack time.

Roy’s end of the family is strictly wrong-side-of-the-tracks material, which worries Erik, who has become the subject of a big magazine profile. (Kate Finneran’s bubbly reporter is only slightly more diligent than a New York Times reporter writing about Iraq.)

With all these farcical balls in the air, helmer-scripter Matthew Allen rather surprisingly doesn’t take the easy-comedy route to painting the family as increasingly empty hypocrites; nor does he turn Roy into a naive, if self-destructive saint. Instead, all main characters make real efforts to improve, so the humor remains strictly human without ever turning sanctimonious.

Given the work Allen puts into explaining how Roy is not related by blood to Erik, the helmer could have glancingly acknowledged the kid’s Eurasian appearance, which would bring another layer of meaning to the pic’s subtle comments on class and money in America. Interestingly, U.S.-made “Walk the Talk” was funded mostly in Sweden, where the Yank helmer has lived since 1991; many tech credits in this good-looking effort belong to Swedes and expats.

Walk the Talk

U.S. - Sweden

Production: A Sonet Film (Sweden) production, in co-production with Film i Vast, in association with TV3, the Chimney Pot (Sweden)/Sound Pictures (U.S.). (International sales: Sonet Film, Stockholm.) Produced by Jakim Hansson, Marco Henry, John Limotte. Executive producers, Doug Bernheim, Cary Elwes, Peter Possne. Co-producer, Chris Miller. Directed, written by Matthew Allen.

Crew: Camera (color), Terrence Hayes; editors, Sofia Lindgren, Michael Palmerio; music, Johan Soderquist, Eagle Eye Cherry; production designer, Anna Vogt; art director, Samuel Cordoba; costume designer, Tabitha Johnson; sound (Dolby), Karl W. Lohninger; line producer, George Paaswell; associate producers, Zoule Pitsiava, Mark Moran; assistant director, Brian O'Sullivan; casting, Susan Shopmaker. Reviewed at Seattle Film Festival (New American Cinema), June 18, 2007. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: Erik Naybor - Cary Elwes Jill - Illeana Douglas Roy - Evan Ellingson Jessie - Katie Cassidy Cam - Chris Pratt Reed - Clayne CrawfordWith: Katie Finneran, Anson Mount, Katrina Begin, David Wilbur, Kenneth Choi.

More Film

  • Myst Computer Game

    'Myst' Film and TV Rights Sell to Village Roadshow

    “Myst,” the influential video game that helped usher in the CD-ROM era, may inspire an ambitious multi-platform film and television universe. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the Australian-American co-producer and co-financier of the “Matrix” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, has acquired the rights to the first-person graphic adventure. For those born post-90s, “Myst” was wildly popular and [...]

  • ‘Half-Sister’ Director Damjan Kozole on Compassion,

    ‘Half-Sister’ Director Damjan Kozole on Compassion, Learning From the Past

    Two estranged half-siblings from a small coastal town in Slovenia spend the better part of their young lives ignoring each other’s existence. But when circumstances force them to move into the same cramped apartment, they have no choice but to come to terms with the past that binds them, while trying to decide how to [...]

  • The Traitor

    MMC Studios, One of Germany's Biggest Production Facilities, Changes Hands

    Germany’s MMC Studios, which has hosted such recent international productions as Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller “7500” and Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition film “The Traitor,” is changing hands. Frankfurt-based investment company Novum Capital has acquired the facility in Cologne, one of Germany’s biggest film and TV studios, from Luxembourg private equity fund Lenbach Equity Opportunities I. The [...]

  • Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks Off Tuesday With Solid $3.5 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Annabelle Comes Home” collected a strong $3.5 million in Tuesday night previews. The supernatural thriller is expected to earn $30 million over its first five days in theaters. “Annabelle Comes Home” is the third “Annabelle” movie and seventh entry in the Conjuring franchise. Preview ticket sales are in line with [...]

  • Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour'

    Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour' Picked Up for U.S. by Brainstorm Media

    “The Wolf Hour,” a psychological thriller starring Naomi Watts and Jennifer Ehle, has been picked up for North America by Brainstorm Media. HanWay Films has also closed sales for a host of European and Asian territories. Directed by Alistair Banks Griffin, “The Wolf Hour” features Oscar-nominated Watts as June, a former countercultural celebrity who lives [...]

  • A Star Is Born

    'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Surpasses Global Sales of 6 Million

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s onscreen chemistry continues to be felt on the official soundtrack to “A Star is Born,” which just surpassed 6 million albums sold globally and has been certified double platinum in the U.S. Released by Interscope Records in 2018, the album debuted atop the charts and remains the highest-selling album of [...]

  • monty-python-are-fifty-in-2019

    Previously Unreleased Monty Python Audio to Get Airing for Troupe's 50th Anniversary

    Michael Palin will exec-produce series of radio specials containing never-before-released audio from Monty Python as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic comedy troupe. They will play on the BBC in the U.K. and then go out in the U.S. Palin and his fellow Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content