Saturday, March 15, 2014



Norman is back at Happy Acres sanitarium for his semi-annual drying out cure and prefrontal lobotomy. This has allowed me time to work on new projects here at Chateau Maine, free from interruption. The most exciting new development is a grant from the NEA to develop my new one-woman show, Lester on Lister , an exploration of modern bacteriological science and aseptic technique set to music and modern tap dance. This project has long been a dream of mine, ever since I first encountered pasteurized milk, and I’m so thankful that it will soon be a reality. I’m already working on a piece for the second act, which dramatizes the collision of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and chloramphenicol in a petri dish.

Joseph, my manager, thinks that he may be able to arrange a concert tour of some of the great symphony halls of the country with such a highbrow offering with a great star like myself. He’s busy offering it to the Lively Arts series of colleges across the nation. I do so hate the rigors of a long tour but I realize that it’s important that my fan base be able to see me live in order to get the full impact of my glorious talents and personality.

With Norman dining on intravenous amino acids and the occasional Librium tabet, I had a free afternoon, so off I went to see Loser , a new film from Amy Heckerling playing at my local cineplex. There was something about the title that caught my eye as I've definitely been feeling in a negatory frame of mind recently, especially after I was mysteriously not invited to be part of the publicity tour of Slaughterhouse Live! , the new musical film version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle which I recently finished shooting. It must have been an oversight on the part of the PR firm. I have long been a fan of Amy Heckerling and find some of her earlier films such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the delightful Emma send-up, Clueless , to be brilliant examples of teen comedy (even if she did expect us to believe Judge Reinhold was a teenager). This time, however, she and producing partner Twink Caplan (Miss Geist from Clueless ) come up short.

Jason Biggs stars as Paul, a kid from the upper Midwest who wears a doofy hat and who comes to NYC for college at NYU. He ends up rooming with three obnoxious bond traders/used car salesmen in training (Zak Orth, Thomas Sadoski and Jimmi Simpson) who proceed to make fun of everything about him and make his life, in general, miserable. Things start to look up when he takes a job in a veterinary clinic and meets the sweet Dora (Mena Suvari), who’s as much of a misfit as he is. Her big problem is her secret affair with her egotistical professor (Greg Kinnear). Will Paul and Dora find happiness together? Is Jeanette McDonald a soprano….

The plot of naives coming to college in the big bad city should be fertile ground for Ms. Heckerling's wit and writing style and she does give the leads some wonderful lines to deliver. However, she makes one big mistake and that one is a doozy from which the movie never recovers. Jason Biggs ( American Pie ) and Mena Suvari (American Beauty ), prove they can act and create real humans with real emotions, but these characters are written to be smart, intelligent people, if a little quirky. Smart, intelligent people, however, would not allow themselves to be used repeatedly as doormats by every other character in the movie over and over again simply to create comic situation and further the plot. This logical fallacy destroys the movies few charms, leaving it as a collection of good performances, witty lines, but overall empty and unappealing.

The supporting cast, which includes a number of well-known faces in cameos, does good work but all are ultimately done in by the structural problems in the script. Ms. Heckerling and Ms. Caplan should have tossed this one into the ‘it looked good on paper’ pile and gone on to another project.

'Fargo' hat. Rohypnol. Leaking waterbed. Vile undergraduates. Gratuitous kitten birth. Disco lighting. Multiple bad hair don'ts. Dean brown nosing. Gratuitous Dan Aykroyd.

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