State and Main (2000)

STATE AND MAIN, the newest from writer/director/playwright David Ma-
met (THE WINSLOW BOY, THE SPANISH PRISONER) and which opens in Tri-
angle theaters in another week, assembles Alec Baldwin, Charles Durn-
ing, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Patti LuPone, Sarah 
Jessica Parker, David Paymer, and Rebecca Pidgeon as (a.) the film 
crew that descends upon and (b.) the residents who reside in (c.) a 
small, scenic Vermont town turned replacement locale for a Big Holly-
wood Movie.  (The last location, in New Hampshire, was hastily aban-
doned as result of the leading man's libidinous interest in underage 
girls.  Played by Baldwin.)  Wackiness ensues, with ample industry  
jokes and, per Mamet, an endless stream of rapidly exchanged, near-
monotone monologues.  (With speeches shoehorned so closely together 
that practically overlap!)  At least the premise is a familiar one--
Sleepy Town Invaded-- so Mamet non-fans flummoxed by the highly styl-
ized dialogued should still enjoy the movie.  (Experience with the 
rat-a-tat-tat talk of classic screwball comedies helps too.)

The ensemble cast is uniformly engaging, with Phillip Seymour Hof-
fman the surprise standout, this time playing, well, a normal guy.  
(As the softer spoken screenwriter of the film-within-the-film, he 
darn near qualifies as a leading man!  And a romantic lead at that!)  
Other players are less readily "human," like Mamet's lovely, real-
life wife Rebecca Pidgeon, whose speedy speaking rarely shakes its 
theatrical gait.  And if the story seems a bit overcrowded-- do we 
*really* need so much local color?-- the dialogue is absolutely 
aces.  As is Mamet's trademark, his words are a heavenly to behold.  
Like those ample, wonderful, tossed-off witticisms ("Don't flinch 
when I'm talking to you!", "Tits tits tits tits," etc.).  Or char-
acter exchanges so skillfully constructed, the lines fitting togeth-
er like the pieces of an intricate puzzle, that you can't help but 
laugh out loud.  ('Tis the same, tickled reaction, I imagine, as 
watching an intricately choreographed action sequence.)  We're even 
treated to the occasional dollop of *physical* comedy, such as Mam-
et's matter-of-fact take on the classic, naked-woman-behind-the-
door-that-the-girlfriend's-knocking-upon bit.  Hilarious.  Don't 
miss it.  (Rated "R"/105 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Dueling Monologues at a Screwball Pace

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros