Speakeasy

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
David Strathairn as Bruce Hickman
Nicky Katt as Frank Marnikov
Stacy Edwards as Sophie Hickman
Arthur Hiller as Mr. Prappas
Lake Bell as Sara Marnikov
Christopher McDonald as Dr. Addams
Michael Bacall as Gene
Gage Stevens as Eva
Julianne Nicholson as Rebecca

Special Features:
None

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 86 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in 2002 and it was a runner up in the Project Greenlight series from HBO. The following is from the DVD cover:

“Hollywood stars David Strathairn (Twisted), Nicky Katt (School of Rock, Secondhand Lions), Christopher McDonald (Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams), and Stacy Edwards (The Next Best Thing, The Bachelor) deliver unforgettable performances in this compelling tale of self-discovery. After being randomly brought together in a car accident, two strangers develop a friendship based on their shared relationship with a deaf man. This common bond will lead them down a new path of personal awakeningÂ…and force them to each confront secrets buried in the past! Speakeasy is another outstanding motion picture from the production team featured in HBO’s hit series Project Greenlight that’s sure to entertain you.”

Speakeasy is rated PG-13 for some language.

The Movie:
The DVD cover for Speakeasy makes the movie look like some sexy drama. However, it is anything but. It’s more of a comedic character drama than anything. While it features some good acting and witty dialogue, the overall story is unsatisfying and the characters aren’t terribly likable.

The basic idea behind Speakeasy is a good one. It explores the idea of what would happen if two people who had a traffic accident together began a friendship. What would happen as a result of the friendship? How would the random meeting make their lives better or worse. Unfortunately, the execution of that clever concept doesn’t exactly pan out. First of all, none of the characters are that likable. While they all have witty one-liners, it gets to the point where every other word out of their mouths is some sarcastic comment. It starts seeming more than a little rude. Then every character has their own selfish motivations or character flaws that make them annoying. Because of this, the story seems even more unsatisfying when it goes nowhere.

David Strathairn is probably the most notable person in the cast as Bruce Hickman. The story really revolves around him. He’s intriguing as a magician, but his random sarcastic comments make him a little abrasive. His character is married to Stacy Edwards as Sophie Hickman. She cries and is depressed through most of the movie, but her reasons for being that way seem petty and selfish. It’s hard to imagine what drew Bruce to her. The same goes for Nicky Katt as Frank Marnikov, the man Bruce has a traffic accident with. He, too, is rude and sarcastic, so it’s also hard to see why Bruce would become friends with him. Director Arthur Hiller is fun as Sophie’s deaf father Mr. Prappas. He’s fun to watch as the cranky old man. Christopher McDonald has a notable secondary role as Dr. Addams, but he’s not likable either because he tries to woo Sophie away from Bruce through his psychiatry skills.

I think the Project Greenlight films are great ideas and I really support their efforts, but I don’t think that Speakeasy is quite as good as it could have been. I’d only recommend this movie to fans of the Project Greenlight series. I imagine the story behind making it is more entertaining than the film itself.

The Extras:
There are no bonus features included on this DVD, but you can probably expect another edition of it in the future with more Project Greenlight bonus features.

The Bottom Line:
A lack of likable characters and a plot that hardly goes anywhere makes Speakeasy an unentertaining film. I’d only recommend it movie to fans of the Project Greenlight series.

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