Friday June 18, 1999
Director Robert DeFranco (who also co-wrote and co-stars) has assembled an impressive cast of some of Hollywood's brightest young actors for his feature debut, "Telling You," a comedy-drama about a group of buddies, recent college grads, who hang out at a neighborhood pizza parlor. In fact, putting together this group is probably the most impressive thing about it.
What luck to get Dash Mihok ("The Thin Red Line"), Peter Facinelli ("Can't Hardly Wait"), Matthew Lillard ("Scream") and teen queen Jennifer Love Hewitt, no less, to star in a low-budget independent movie. DeFranco must be one charismatic young man because these actors certainly didn't agree to do "Telling You" because of the script. (Or if they did, they and their agents should be admonished.)
The wafer-thin plot centers around Dennis (Mihok), a nice-looking and bright enough ex-jock and his slick friend Phil (Facinelli) who return to their Long Island hometown after college and take jobs in Lombardo's, a neighborhood pizza joint.
Dennis spends most of his time mooning over an elusive ex-girlfriend while Phil does his best to avoid one of his ex-girlfriends, a hyperactive, aspiring fashion designer played by Hewitt. The plot kicks in when a bag of money (about $1,100) that the two are responsible for is stolen from the restaurant.
The guys and their buddies come up with a scheme to raise the dough so they can replace it before the owner of Lombardo's returns but, like the guys themselves, the scheme is none too inspired or interesting.
The only attempt to create subtext and depth is an odd subplot about a mysterious homeless man (Richard Libertini) who pops into the pizza place periodically and recites, more or less, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."
"Telling You" (a particularly ill-fitting title because in this film no one is telling the audience much of anything) is pleasant enough and the production values are as good as any studio film. But the characters and what happens to them, as written by DeFranco and Marc Palmieri, just aren't as interesting as these actors, and the audience, deserve.
Telling You, 1999. R for language and brief strong sexuality. CineTel Films Inc. presents a Division I Entertainment Production. Director Robert DeFranco. Producer David DuPuy. Executive producer Christopher DeFranco. Screenplay by Robert DeFranco and Marc Palmieri based on a story by Marc Palmieri & Denis Flood. Cinematographer Mark Doering-Powell. Editors Jonathan Cates and Louis Cioffi. Music Russ Landau. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Dash Mihok as Dennis Nolan. Peter Facinelli as Phil Fazzulo. Jennifer Love Hewitt as Deb Friedman. Andy Berman as Howard Gurtler. Richard Libertini as Mr. P.