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Pipe Dream
2002 - - 91 Mins.
Director: John C. Walsh
Producer: Mike Curb, Carole Curb Nemoy, Sally Roy
Written By: Cynthia Kaplan, John C. Walsh
Starring: Martin Donovan, Mary-Louise Parker, Rebecca Gayheart, Kevin Carroll, Peter Jacobson
Review by: James O'Ehley
   
Is it just me or are the plots of romantic comedies getting more convoluted and contrived by the minute? I am sure that anyone who has seen the trailer for the recent “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Serendipity” (the John Cusack starrer in which “destiny” in the guise of a second-hand copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ plays a pivotal role) will probably agree that this genre is pushing the limits of credulity.

Now, along comes Pipe Dream – a low-budget independent romantic comedy set in New York (where else?). First, we meet David, a plumber (played by Martin Donovan). While visiting a friend/client who is a wannabe casting director for movies, David is mistaken for a well-known director by some beautiful actresses. Then it dawns upon him: it isn’t who you are, but who people think you are (as the movie’s poster also helpfully informs us) that matters in life. This particular insight I think came rather late to him in life.

Anyway, soon David convinces his casting director friend to arrange a fake casting session (or rather audition) in which he will pose as the director of a nonexistent movie. Why? For the same reason a lot of us do anything, namely to get laid.

OK, the friend agrees, but they will need some lines of dialogue from a screenplay for the ambitious actresses to read from. No problem, says our plumber protagonist (when last did you see a movie with a plumber as a romantic lead?). The previous evening David had a doomed one-night stand with a customer who lives in the same apartment block as he does. As it happens, she has a screenplay she would like to see filmed. (And this guy has problems meeting women, he says?)

In short: so he tries to steal her screenplay and gets caught. However, in the meantime, a buzz about the movie has grown amongst the actresses who auditioned, and soon a movie producer actually offers our heroes several million dollars to film the screenplay! The only problem is that no one knows that David is a plumber and that his co-conspirator has never written a screenplay before in her life.

See what I mean by stretching credulity? All right, “Pipe Dream” isn’t as far-fetched as Serendipity and it all seems to fit in reasonably flowingly. However, as a comedy Pipe Dream doesn’t have as much laughs as one would like. As romantic pairing (hands up those of you who didn’t figure out that the plumber and the aspirant screenwriter were meant for each other?) it also doesn’t really work.

Part of the problem is Martin Donovan as the plumber gives a performance that seems to strain at the very edges. His every facial movement or tic seems artificial and forced. This minimalist shtick works great during a funny scene in which he has to direct an actress and he uses, erm, plumbing metaphors. (This scene reminded me of “Being There”, the movie in which Peter Sellers as the slow gardener is on his way to becoming President of the United States because of his use of gardening metaphors.) Otherwise, he comes off as charisma-less and an unlikely romantic lead.

The rest of the cast is fine however. I particularly liked the character of an embittered and cynical Hollywood agent played by Peter Jacobson. However, somewhere towards the last third of the movie I found myself glancing at my watch as the movie’s plot mechanics unwound in a rather predictable manner.

Light and forgettable entertainment that one might check out on TV one night when there is nothing else on.

Notes regarding the DVD: For such a low-budget movie, the image quality is unexpectedly good. The sound is adequate, but not great though. There is a making of featurette, but since Pipe Dream itself deals with the making of movies, I did not particularly relish sitting through it.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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