Movie review: Restroom repartee in 'Head'

In "From the Head," Shoes (writer/director/star George Griffith) is a bathroom attendant in the strangest restroom in Manhattan. It's not just that it's in a strip club — it's that every guy who enters strikes up a conversation, and most of them even tip.

Shoes, so named for his classy wingtips, is a therapist, sage and comedian. What he isn't — or at least he won't admit it — is a New York fixture, but after three years of eight-hour shifts passing out mints, wiping lipstick off married men and assuring the spendthrifts that Ruby really does think they're "different," it's time to either start looking for a real job or stop clinging to his ironic detachment. Still, the cash is so good and the tequila shots so plentiful, why decide tonight?

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First-time filmmaker Griffith's wry dramedy is both a character study and a personal showcase, but his fatal flaw is that Shoes just isn't as interesting as the drunks, jerks, goons and dreamers who stumble into his lair to relieve themselves. (Matthew Lillard even pops by — if only his character drank more so he'd have an excuse to come back.) With no narrative thrust beyond Shoes' looming fear of the chaos to come when the ballgame gets out, "From the Head" settles into an enjoyably miserablist episodic rhythm, the patrons' patter all starting to blend together like Shoes' pat answer to rote greetings: "Same [breasts], different day."


"From the Head." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. Playing at the Arena Cinema, Hollywood


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