The Impostors (1998)

Written and Directed by Stanley Tucci
Starring Stanley Tucci, Oliver Platt, Alfred Molina, Lili Taylor, Campbell Scott

My Advice: Don't Miss It.

I don't want to take anything away from Zucker, Parker and Stone, but I was going to be afraid if the funniest movie I saw this year ending up being BASEketball.  No offense guys, but it's just one of those things.  Instead I got this film, whose working title was Ship of Fools but should have been Abbott and Costello Take Some Speed.  Meet Arthur (Tucci) and Maurice (Platt), two out of work, down on their luck thespians who are desperate to act.  They go to see a play that features an old acting comrade (Matt Malloy) and are subjected to a Hamlet performed by Broadway's biggest blowhard, Jeremy Burtom (Molina).  Burtom turns a tirade the two friends make against him into an assault, and the next thing they know, the police are after them.  They unknowingly stowaway aboard an ocean liner, which happens to be full of whacked out characters played to the hilt by top notch actors, and Burtom. 

This is a screwball comedy of the highest order, and the man to thank is Mr. Tucci, responsible for pretty much the whole mess.  Not only did he write and direct it, but he's the star who gets to play multiple parts for he is, after all, an actor playing an actor.  And that's what the beauty of the film is, is that the majority of the characters are the film's namesake, actors playing actors.  You have Oliver Platt, a very solid player who delivers as the somewhat slow-witted Lou to Tucci's Bud in full-out absurd perfection.  And then--you have the supporting cast, and there's so many of them, I'm just going to be able to hit the highlights or else my server space will go bajoing on me.  First and foremost, Campbell Scott is the gestapo-esque Meistrich, complete with facial scar, bowl cut and dead-on accent.  I can't believe this is the same guy who I remember from Singles.  Tony Shaloub is the First Mate, whose 1930's version of phone sex is complete with subtitles.  Then there's Billy Connolly as the frisky tennis pro Sparks who likes wrestling naked men on the steps of the Acropolis.  And last but not least, Steve Buscemi as a depressed entertainer named Happy Franks, and that's all that needs to be said.  I swear, I'm not making any of this up, the characters and the respective casting for each is indie-lover heaven.  The praise I have here is just the tip of the iceberg, I assure you.  But I'm very impressed with Tucci because of this film, whose unbelievable range as both actor is matched by his prowess as a writer and director.  The very fact he has such a huge cast but you still don't need a score card to keep up with who's who is a testament to his abilities.  I can't wait for his third film, personally.  And don't wait for this one--go check it out.

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