The shenanigans of slippery French producer- distributor Philippe Martinez may well have been the reason that Michael Traeger‘s The Amateurs was kept out of theatres for the last two years, but really good films are never stuck in limbo for too long. And having seen The Amateurs, I feel that L.A. Times reporter John Horn is being generous in implying that this small-town comedy about a group of middle-aged dorks (Jeff Bridges, Tim Blake Nelson, Joe Pantoliano, William Fichtner, Ted Danson) making a porn flick is worth the price of a ticket.
Sorry, but I don’t think it is. I wouldn’t recommend it as a rental. I know the film has been through rough times and all, but reality is reality.
I saw The Amateurs at the Santa Barbara Film Festival almost three years ago (back when it was called The Moguls), and I was into my agony mode — quiet moaning, foot-tapping, covering face with both hands — less than 20 minutes in. The performances seemed way too broad, the characters too yokelish. And the film, which has been titled Dirty Movie in Germany, is way too chaste. Why make a movie about schlubs making a porno if you’re going to keep everything this zipped and this buttoned?
In the 12.7 L.A. Times piece, Traeger tells Horn that the list of plagues visited on The Amateurs for the last two years or so means “you could only conclude that someone put a curse on us. This is a little indie movie that was struck by unbelievable tragedy.” He also describes the production of The Amateurs as “a blessing.” Not from my end it wasn’t.