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MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Jack and His Friends’: A Trying Trip

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There’s not a breath of wit or reality in the hopelessly tedious, relentlessly grating comedy “Jack and His Friends” (at the Monica 4-Plex) despite a capable cast headed by Allen Garfield, who gives his considerable all to his portrayal of a successful but wimpy middle-aged shoe manufacturer “liberated” by a young couple on the lam from the cops. (We never do know the crime they’ve supposedly committed.)

Garfield’s Jack is already distraught from being confronted with his wife’s infidelity when, while driving aimlessly in the rain, he happens upon Judy Reyes’ Rosie, lying naked across a deserted highway. Jack stops and finds himself kidnaped by Rosie and her pistol-wielding boyfriend Louie (Sam Rockwell).

In short order Jack is taking them to his elegant island summer place in the East Hamptons, where the couple want to hole up for the weekend before moving on.

It is actor turned writer-director Bruce Ornstein’s notion that this young couple, as abusive as they are to Jack, will eventually turn out to be not so bad after all, especially when Jack crosses paths unexpectedly with some of the ultra-pretentious locals in what at first looked to be a deserted community. Theoretically, Rosie and Louie evolve, right along with Jack, but they and everyone else are such heavy-handed caricatures no believable development is possible.

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For that matter, there is absolutely nothing credible about any of these people, in either words or actions, under Ornstein’s ultra-theatrical direction, which encourages everyone to go over the top incessantly. For all the conviction Garfield--who might have shone had the film been far better made--brings to Jack, you can’t believe that such a naive milquetoast so hung up on propriety could ever become a rich businessman.

In circumstances considerably less dire, Reyes and Rockwell also could conceivably make good impressions. “Jack and His Friends,” which was filmed two years ago, is Times-rated Mature for language, nudity, some sex.

‘Jack and His Friends’

Allen Garfield: Jack

Sam Rockwell: Louie

Judy Reyes: Rosie

An Arrow Entertainment release. Writer-director Bruce Ornstein. Producers Benjamin Gruberg, Karen Jaehne. Executive producer Dennis Friedland. Cinematographer Dan Stoloff. Editor Barbara Tulliver. Costumes Ellen Ryba. Production design Ellen Caldwell. Art director Roald Scott Lawson. Set decorator Christine McDowell. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Times-rated Mature (for language, nudity, some sex).

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