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Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Film Buff: An Ungainly Romp

Jeff Goldblum is the epitome of geek chic. His characters like Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, David Levinson in Independence Day, and Seth Brundle in The Fly elevate the nerd archetype to a level of sexy cool.
In this week's Friday Film Buff selection, however, Goldblum's Dexter King is neither very smart nor very sexy. What he is mostly is awkward. And tall.
The Tall Guy (1989) is director Mel Smith's film debut and introduces us to the hapless Dexter, an American actor living in London and playing straight man in a comedy sketch show to popular comedian Ron Anderson - essentially an evil version of Rowan Atkinson played, naturally, by Rowan Atkinson.
Goldblum gets an opportunity to display his considerable slapstick chops in this mostly very broad comedy (written by long-time Atkinson collaborator Richard Curtis), as he bumbles his way through his unextraordinary, allergen-filled life.
Things turn around for Dexter, though, when he encounters the clever and confident Kate (Emma Thompson) culminating in one of the funniest love scenes ever filmed. He also lands the title role in a West End Musical based on the story of John Merrick the elephant man called simply elephant! (note the exclamation point).
There's lots of bizarre humor in this film and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and the leads are such intelligent actors that they manage to find some great subtle moments amid the absurdity.
I fell in love with this movie on first viewing and it continues to be a favorite movie to recommend to friends.

"It Must Be Love" by Madness figures prominently in the film about mid-way through in a "rules-are-meant-to-broken" scene from director Mel Smith. I won't spoil it for you, but I want to share the song with you, so here's the video from Madness:

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