It deserves whatever terrible things might be said about its makers

Peep World

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            The real fun of reviewing movies is writing about one that that aims high and succeeds. Aiming high but failing is still commendable. Niche films (most frat boy and chick flicks) are merely boring. But when a movie is so utterly lazy that it becomes an intolerable insult to the audience, it deserves whatever terrible things might be said about its makers. Such a one is Peep World.
            Henry Meyerwitz (Ron Rifkin) is a Manhattan developer who has ten adult children, an ex-wife, a pregnant girlfriend, and lots of money. He has never liked or enjoyed any of his adult children who he sees as losers. Only business success might have won Henry's affection, and don't bother looking for that in this brood.
            Jack (Michael C. Hall) is a pedestrian architect about to lose his firm. He sneaks off to an interactive sex shop leaving his pregnant wife Laura (Judy Greer) home alone. Joel (Rainn Wilson) is the perennial trouble maker who drives around in a battered Escalade trying to patch up the messes he has created. Nathan, the youngest, has written a wildly successful novel entitled Peep World that skewers his family. With movie rights optioned, Nathan is the one obvious success in the second generation. Cheri (Sarah Silverman), a daughter among boys, is spoiled, selfish, arrogant and bitter that Nathan has portrayed her true ugliness in his book.
            Tonight this group of disaffected family will gather to celebrate Henry's 70th birthday. For the balance of the film, we watch the misfits fire verbal bullets at each other - the kind that shatter into lethal pieces on impact. We learn about Henry, the absent, uncaring father. Leslie Ann Warren creates the one decent character as the ex-wife navigating her crowd of lonely maladjusted children; but whenever a real performance begins to pop up, it is extinguished in seconds, leaving the actor hanging with nothing to say and nowhere to go.             The movie seems to fancy itself as stand-up or sitcom, but the jokes are dull and flat. Get ready for a Heimlich maneuver for a choking victim who deserves to die, a medically induced erection that might be mercifully terminal, and a pathetic performance by Sarah Silverman about whom nothing can be said beyond the truth that she is a terrible actor.
            A heap of blame is due, and most of it goes to writer Peter Himmelstein who has written a script that strands his actors in unresolved snippets. And don't spare director Barry Blaustein. Either of these men should have been a restraining influence on the other. Instead, dialogue and direction equal zero.
            After an introductory voice announced, "A brutally honest and dysfunctional family on the brink of implosionů.," we settled in to enjoy the problems of a family not our own. But hear this: no matter how terrible your dysfunctional family is, this movie will make you understand on a deep level that it could be a lot worse.


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