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Peep World

A big-name cast wearily goes through the motions in Barry W. Blaustein's hackneyed black comedy.

With: Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Ron Rifkin, Alicia Witt, Stephen Tobolowsky, Taraji P. Henson, Lesley Ann Warren, Lewis Black, Nicholas Hormann.

A big-name cast wearily goes through the motions in helmer Barry W. Blaustein’s hackneyed black comedy “Peep World.” This tale of a dysfunctional Jewish family celebrating the 70th birthday of its nasty patriarch (Ron Rifkin) is so lame that it barely gets a rise out of permanent erection jokes. Pic is unlikely to make much of a peep in theatrical (IFC picked up U.S. rights at Toronto), but ancillary beckons.

Speaking in the solemn tones of a trailer voiceover, an unseen narrator (Lewis Black) introduces the four messed-up Meyerowitz siblings, all farcical caricatures. The youngest, condescending Nathan (Ben Schwartz), has penned the eponymous bestselling roman a clef, leading bitchy, struggling actress sister Cheri (Sarah Silverman) to sue him for libel. Cheri’s grudge is aggravated by the fact that the movie version of the book is shooting outside her window, and her father’s young girlfriend (Alicia Witt) is playing her.

Meanwhile, oldest son Jack (Michael C. Hall), the supposed responsible one, is on the verge of losing his architecture practice and his marriage to Laura (Judy Greer). Nevertheless, he continues to lend money to black-sheep brother Joel (Rainn Wilson), a walking mass of pathologies given unwarranted adoration by new girlfriend Mary (Taraji P. Henson, offering the pic’s best thesping).

When this crew, plus the siblings’ mother (Lesley Ann Warren), her new husband (Nicolas Hormann), Nathan’s publicist (Kate Mara) and Cheri’s Jews for Jesus pal (Stephen Tobolowsky) gather around the dinner table, the ensuing recriminations and revelations are almost totally predictable and terribly uninteresting.

Comic timing is so strained, it’s hard to believe that Blaustein cut his teeth as a screenwriter for the Farrelly brothers and directed laffer “The Ringer.” Pic’s sitcom-style tech credits look a trifle threadbare.

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Peep World

Production: An IFC Films release of an Occupant Films production. (International sales: Hyde Park Intl., Burbank, Calif.) Produced by Joe Neurateur, Felipe Marino, Keith Calder. Co-producer, Paul Davis. Directed by Barry W. Blaustein. Screenplay, Peter Himmelstein.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Tobias Datum; editors, Steven Welch, Evan Schiff, Jeff Werner; music, Jeff Cardoni; production designer, Sue Chan; costume designer, Janica Bravo, sound (Dolby Digital), Chris Woerndie. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Gala Presentations), Sept. 16, 2010. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Ron Rifkin, Alicia Witt, Stephen Tobolowsky, Taraji P. Henson, Lesley Ann Warren, Lewis Black, Nicholas Hormann.

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