Friday, January 22, 2010

DROOL opens (in L.A.); Laura Harring stars in Nancy Kissam's comedy

How nice to see Laura Harring, the voluptuous young lady from Mulholland Drive (the one whose career did not take off like a house afire), in a leading role once again. It would have been even nicer to have seen her in a leading role in a good film. But, ardent movie lover that TrustMovies is, he takes what he can get. And in this case, he's got a colorful, over-the-top time-waster.

Written and directed by Nancy Kissam (shown at right with shades and cigar: The shot is courtesy of Slamdance, at which Ms Kissam's screenplay won an award), DROOL is brightly colored and, as it moves along, very predictable in almost every way.  That it lasts a mere 85 minutes is one of its saving graces.  The other can be found in the film's performances, all of which, though fairly broad, are good enough (even given what the poor actors are sometimes asked to do) to make the movie bearable.

For me, the biggest problem with so many gay and lesbian films is their insistence on a happy ending at all costs. I realize that most of us want this (Isn't that what movies are supposed to be about?) but it helps if we arrive there via a route that offers some surprise and characters who possess the quirks and nuances of reality.  Ms Kissam's set-up is heavy-handed enough, but from there she slams each event so hard it finally hurts, right up to the requisite bring-us-all-together -- races, sexes, the works! -- finale.  Oh, well.  It's all quite happy, as I mentioned.

In addition to the beautiful Ms Harring (above), the movie offers the gorgeous Jill Marie Jones (below) as a spicy new neighbor, Mummy man Oded Fehr as the abusive hubby, and Ashley Duggan Smith (bottom, left) and Christopher Newhouse (bottom, center left) as Harring's children.  Kissam draws consistent performances from her cast; everybody's on the same page: characterization via broad-stroke, felt-tip marker. Situations, events and people are all overdrawn, particularly in comparison to another comedy that also opened this week: The Paranoids.   The differences between the way these directors handle their films seem to me both striking and pertinent.  As quirky as is The Paranoids, it never loses touch with reality.  Drool -- in all its primary-color palette and "quirks" as big as boulders -- rarely seems to approach it.

Clearly these films are aimed at different audiences, and since comparisons are of course odious, I should just shut up and suggest that, if you prefer your films on the easy-to-digest side, give Drool a chance.  (That title comes from what the Harring character's hubby does, automatically, during sex.) The film opens today, January 22, via Strand Releasing, only in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Sunset 5 complex, on a daily, two-performance-only schedule.  Can a DVD release be far behind?

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