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wipe that smile off your face, mister!


Scott Prendergast, Lisa Kudrow, Conchata Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Teri Garr

Brad: Leslie, call the police, we’re being attacked!!
Elizabeth: By cheese!!  And that blue thing is trying to kill us!!

While his brother is away in Iraq, Salman (Prendergast), a rather dimwitted fellow, comes to stay with his wife and 2 kids.  This doesn’t work out too well, and the wife, Leslie (Kudrow), wants Salman to leave.  He doesn’t have enough money for a bus ticket, so he takes a job as a corporate mascot, standing on the side of the road trying to hand out fliers.

You know, I’m starting to think that the term “quirky”, as I saw this film described as, is basically a way of saying that it tries to be funny, but fails.  Maybe that’s not always true, but it sure seems like a word that’s thrown around a lot these days with hopes of excusing the more annoying aspects of a movie.

If that’s the case, then I’d say this movie is quite quirky to begin with before transitioning into more sentimental, and somewhat more successful, territory.  Lisa Kudrow is generally likable, and she can deliver a comedic line pretty well, but her character is sort of horrible.  Her children are demon spawn nightmares that run around screaming and breaking things all the time, with seemingly no disciplinary action taken by mom.  I guess their behavior is supposed to have something to do with their dad being gone, but the movie doesn’t really explore that very well.  I guess Leslie has just given up on parenting, but again, that isn’t tackled head on.  Instead, the movie focuses on Salman standing out in the middle of nowhere, in a cumbersome blue outfit, hoping that cars speeding by will stop and take a flier advertising space for rent in an office complex.

These scenes just go on and on, and include several odd and annoying appearances by Teri Garr as a former employee of the company that Salman’s costume is the logo of.  She basically just screams, blows her car horn, and tries to run him over.

There’s some good imagery at times, and a few funny lines and interesting plot developments here and there, but for the most part, it all seems pretty pointless.  Plus, it never really takes on the main issues at hand.  The child actors aren’t good enough to really show realistic effects of having a father away at war for over a year, so that issue can’t really be explored.  We start to get into what’s going on with Leslie a bit deeper, but suddenly everything is resolved and the movie ends, and it doesn’t seem like it earned the final feel-good scenes.

Mascot costumes should have fingers.

10 – 1.5 for some failed comedy attempts – 2 for just glossing over the possibly interesting story elements – .9 for the boring stretches in the middle = 5.6