...Around (2008)

Watchable

Content written by Tony Macklin. Originally published on February 25, 2009 on tonymacklin.net.

For much of its length ...Around seems like a companion piece to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). It could be titled Doyle Simms's 4 Years Off.

It's not only that the leading character Doyle Simms is glib and seems to glide through most of the film, but Rob Evans -- the actor who plays him -- is a spitting image for Alan Ruck, who played the sidekick of Ferris Bueller.

Evans has to carry the movie since some of the supporting characters (and actors) -- especially his parents -- are weak. They offer neither chemistry nor personality.

Then well into the film, Doyle becomes wishy-washy. Then we're supposed to think he's angst-ridden, maybe even tragic.

What exactly is Doyle's problem -- that people think he's a good guy and he thinks he's not? But there's no evidence that he's not. He's not even a suitable neurotic.

Director/writer David Spaltro has a valid concept, and he's fortunate that Evans and Molly Ryman -- who plays Doyle's friend Allyson -- are personable and gifted, as is Stephen Grgas, who portrays the young Doyle.

But Spaltro relies too much on coincidence -- his two leading characters keep meeting all over New York.

Some bits are just plain unbelievable. Doyle meets a homeless man in a men's room who quotes Milton to him, and he quotes Milton in return. Sure, Men's Room Lost.

The scenes with Doyle and his mother are drab soap opera. When a man purposely trips another in a bar and nothing else happens, it's not real.

There are bits of engaging spontaneity -- e.g., Doyle and an Asian cook hugging -- but they are few.

Doyle says, "Film is such a great medium to show things in a different way." I'm not sure Spaltro listened to him enough. Most of the sequences are conventional. I'm also not sure Spaltro should have Doyle criticize using stereotypes, since many of his characters are pretty much one-dimensional.

...Around, which has the tagline Embrace the Fall, is more hopscotch than a fall.

Spaltro's writing and direction could use a sharper edge, but he knows how to create arresting images.

Ferris Bueller would like that.


You might be interested in reading my most recent reviews, all of my reviews from this year, or all of my reviews from last year.

For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).


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