Friday, March 25, 2011

Movie with Abe: Peep World

Peep World
Directed by Barry W. Blaustein
Released March 25, 2011

The best kind of ensemble dramas don’t have any clear-cut main character and instead make as much use as appropriate of every player. Family units make especially good fodder for such projects, and “Peep World” takes full advantage of that. It’s the story of four grown siblings with considerable quirks and bones to pick with each other, all coming together to celebrate their excessively rich and distant father’s seventieth birthday. Major events and life changes ensue on the day leading up to the big night, providing plenty of entertaining insight into the lives of the Meyerwitz family members.

“Peep World” assembles a wildly impressive cast among which there are no duds. Most among its numbers come from a television background, including all four siblings, Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson (“The Office”), and Ben Schwartz (“Undercovers,” “Parks and Recreation”). Patriarch Henry is played by Ron Rifkin of “Alias” and “Brothers and Sisters” fame, and the matriarch, Henry’s ex-wife, is played by Lesley Ann Warren, who has recurred on “Desperate Housewives.” On spouse slash significant other duty we have Judy Greer, currently starring on CBS’ “Mad Love,” Taraji P. Henson (“Boston Legal”), Kate Mara (“Jack & Bobby”), and Stephen Tobolowsky (“Glee,” “Californication”). Fortunately, the transition to the big screen in this film appears effortless and an enormous success.

Among the solid cast there are certainly a few standouts. Hall and Wilson, both of whom play socially awkward characters in their respective signature TV roles, bring their solitary natures to this large family and help to create two fascinating characters, one underappreciated and the other doomed to continued failure. Silverman is fun and unhinged as one might expect, and Schwartz graduates slightly form his obnoxious supporting television roles to join these more experienced actors and match them. Kate Mara, recently seen in “127 Hours,” is particularly mesmerizing and memorable as Meg, the assistant who helps Schwartz’s newly famous writer cope with his recent success.

The movie itself and its nutty cast of characters is reminiscent in many ways of “Arrested Development,” thanks in no small part to the monotone voiceover narration of one Lewis Black. Yet it’s hardly a carbon copy, and there’s plenty of originality to be found in this film. Additionally, its shortened standalone format necessitates a certain brevity and deep plunge into the inner thoughts and workings of the characters, which turns out to be extraordinarily satisfying. These are characters worth visiting again, yet this amusing, smart, entirely engaging movie does them just the right amount of justice.


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