Duane Hopwood Review
By Shawn McKenzie 11/25/2005
If Jennifer Aniston can do it, than fellow “Friend” David Schwimmer can do it. What am I talking about here? I am talking about having a fellow cast member of that departed NBC sitcom appear in an indie movie that shows that actor’s range. While I’m not going to say that Duane Hopwood is as good as The Good Girl was for Aniston, it does show that Schwimmer can play a part other than Ross.
Duane Hopwood (Schwimmer) is a mess of a man. He works the 3 AM to 12 PM shift as a pit boss for Caesars Palace in Atlantic City. He is divorced to Linda (Janeane Garofalo), who is also the mother of his two daughters, Mary (Ramya Pratt) and Kate (Rachel Covey.) He believes that he is down on his luck, but that is mainly because he doesn’t realize that he is an alcoholic. One night, Duane was going home with 8-year-old Mary asleep in the back seat of his car, when a traffic cop friend of his, Bobby (Lenny Venito), pulls him over for weaving on the road doing 84 miles per hour in a parkway. Linda, who is not normally vindictive against Duane, takes him to court to take away his visitation rights. She is understandably frightened that he will do something stupid like this again. Through the advice of his lawyer, Steve (Steve Schirripa), Duane realizes that he needs to make some changes in his life, since he loves his daughters and he still loves his ex-wife. She herself has moved on though. She is dating a gym trainer named “Joggin’” Bob Flynn (John Krasinski), a younger guy who gets on Duane’s nerves, especially when Bob tells Kate that she is overweight and needs to work out. Duane also decides to take in a roommate. He has Anthony (Judah Friedlander), a security guard at Caesars who aspires to be a stand-up comic someday, move in with him. Anthony wants to move out of his mother’s house and live closer to work, and since Duane was convicted of a DWI and had his driver’s license revoked (he has to ride a bicycle to get around), Anthony figures that it is a win-win situation. Even though Anthony can be a little annoying, Duane accepts his offer to move in. Duane and Anthony also find themselves invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the house of Duane’s neighbors. Fred (Dick Cavett) and Wally (Bill Buell), Duane’s possibly gay next-door neighbors, have seen how down Duane has been, and they just want to bring him some holiday spirit. Just when he has decided to clean up his act, Duane gets in more trouble. His nice boss, Carl (Jerry Grayson), has to reprimand him for an incident involving a gambler. Mr. Alonso (Brian Tarantina) is a gambler who was causing trouble in the casino. To calm him down, Duane gave him a few slot tokens, which he used on a slot machine, and won him a jackpot. Unfortunately, Alonso was playing on a machine that had been claimed by an old lady named Mrs. Fillipi (Irma St. Paule), and she in turn complained to Carl about it. Faced with losing his job, Duane becomes really hammered and interrupts Anthony’s stand-up debut. Anthony had finally been given the opportunity to do his act when the previous casino comic, Aldo (Vincent Riviezzo), had gotten a waitress pregnant, and Anthony’s boss, Rahmn (Jeffrey V. Thompson), needed a fill-in. In the end, Duane will have to accept the changes in his life and deal with it, whether it is going to AA meetings, trying to move on with his life with his new bartender girlfriend Gina (Susan Lynch), or making peace with Linda.
Actor Matt Mulhern wrote and directed this movie. It is his second movie, following 1998’s Walking to the Waterline. He is apparently trying to create a movie world for himself, a la Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse, because Duane as a character appeared in Walking (Duane was played by “Spin City” actor Alan Ruck.) Mulhern also played a down-on-his-luck alcoholic, but his character was a TV actor. I wish I had seen Walking to compare it to this movie, because I like when an enterprising filmmaker attempts to create a world for himself.
Schwimmer did a fantastic job. I wish that this movie had gotten a little more buzz, because it really showed off his acting skills. I know that he has been in several movies so far, but most of them have been sub par. Garofalo also got to show off her talent. I have seen her do both comedy and drama, and this is just another example of her ever-growing acting ability. Friedlander was a little irritating, but that was his character, so I can accept it. I liked him better in 2003’s American Splendor though.
Duane Hopwood might be just the thing to bring Schwimmer out of the shadow of Ross. Now…what can we do about Matt LeBlanc?
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