Directed by Anand Tucker.
Written by Steve Martin. Based on the novella by Steve
Starring Steve Martin, Claire Danes, and Jason Schwartzman.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 11/10/05
Am I a victim of the overhype machine?
Coming into the new Steve Martin flick "Shopgirl",
I was all fired up, thinking that this was going to be a shot to get
Martin an Oscar nomination, and for Claire Danes to reassert her
talent, and for Jason Schwartzman to...well, maybe NOT play the same
slightly wacko young oddball he plays in all of his other films.
"Houston...we have a problem."
My buddy Yac, his roommate Kevin and I went
to see "Shopgirl" this week and I must say, all three of us left
with that sinking feeling. Based on the novella of the same
name written by Martin, the longtime comic plays Ray Porter, a
software tycoon that splits time between his homes in L.A. and
Seattle while conducting his business. One day, he meets Saks
Fifth Avenue accessories employee Mirabelle Buttersfield (Danes) and
the two launch an improbable relationship that is, well...normal.
Meanwhile, prior to all of this happening, Mirabelle meets a
roadie/artist named Jeremy (Schwartzman) that is so desperate for
attention (or maybe just ass...it's hard to tell early on) that he
falls over himself trying to go out with Mirabelle, which she
relents to after their chance meeting at a laundromat. This
complicates the Ray/Mirabelle pairing a bit later, and then it
doesn't, as Jeremy goes on a long road tour with a band where he
figures out...well, you'll see.
I'm having a hard time describing the plot
mostly because I don't think there really is one, which is
fine...but that forces us to fall in with the three main characters,
which is nearly impossible, since all three of them are strikingly
boring. Jeremy, the Schwartzman character, is the only reason
you stay hooked early on, as he provides enough random laughs to
keep you intrigued until the inevitable Ray/Mirabelle pairing gets
rolling. But I was stunned at how flat-out bored I was
watching "Shopgirl"; truly, it felt like being dragged through a pit
of hot tar.
But why is this? Maybe it's that I had
a hard time picking up any motivation behind why Ray picked out this
particular girl to wine & dine and take into his home. Maybe
it's the Mirabelle character; as she seems to have no friends (save
for a few folks at Saks, who seem to talk to her only because she
shows up at the same eatery every day) and nothing really to say
even when she is sitting with Ray, our Shopgirl is just so boring!
After we meet him and he is put aside for Ray, the Jeremy character
is reduced to afterthought for the majority of the film...which
makes things even rougher, because Jeremy is the only reason we
laugh during the film's run.
Martin is so subdued here that I honestly
think it would have been better to use another actor to play his
character. As it is, you just expect at some point for Martin
to give us just a shred of the physical comedy and mannerisms that
have defined his career, but he's playing a rich guy stiff...was
Michael Douglas not available? So, Martin's character is not
funny and our heroine is so boring that she almost put me to
sleep...what's left? There are no sideplots in "Shopgirl";
there are no supporting characters. The next highest-billed
performer after the big three, Bridge Wilson-Sampras, has about four
lines over her three scenes. She, and the other cast members,
are mostly an afterthought.
And as we have to lean on our main troika to
make this thing work, "Shopgirl" is a major disappointment.
Again, the film starts off very well and until Mirabelle becomes
entrenched in her romance with Ray, the film shows promise...but
boy, does that disappear quickly! Wait for the DVD!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard