The Impostors (1998)

Stanley Tucci's second film as a filmmaker, after co-writing and
co-directing the delightful BIG NIGHT, is a manic, messy, and mar-
vellously funny farce about a pair of poor actors (Tucci and Oli-
ver Platt) whose Depression-era (mis)adventures go something like 
this:  a scheme to get free food begets free theater tickets, 
where they watch a ham perform Hamlet, who they later fight in a 
bar, which sends them fleeing on foot, where they hide in a crate 
on a dock and awaken on a cruise ship about to set sail, where 
they disguise themselves as stewards, which doesn't work as their 
picture is on the front page of the newspaper.  Got it?  Also on 
board is the assaulted actor (Alfred Molina, a droll delight), 
plus another dozen-or-so colorful characters, including a Russian 
spy, a deposed Queen, a suicidal pop singer, and a pair of murder-
intending con artists.  

Hilarity expectedly ensues, which translates into lots of running, 
shouting, and even a wee bit of cross-dressing.  (Platt in pumps.)  
The stand-out supporting players are Campbell Scott (as a stiff 
German head steward), Billy Connolly (as a gay Scots sportsman), 
and the aforementioned Molina.  Each has at least one side-split-
ting bit.  Stan and Ollie have chemistry to spare, with Platt the 
surprise scene-stealer.  (Who knew he could be so funny?)  Old-
timey title cards and frantic music cues also add to the amuse-
ment, even if the plotting gets increasingly sloppy as it goes.  
(And have you ever seen a shoddier example of pretend playing than 
during the big-band sequence?  Oy.)  You'll laugh, you'll look at 
your watch...  With Steve Buscemi, Hope Davis, Allison Janney, 
Isabella Rossellini, Tony Shalhoub, and Lily Taylor, who actually 
appears in a dress!  (Rated "R"/98 min.)

Grade: B-

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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