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DVD Review: Finding Amanda

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What happens in this movie should've stayed in the studios. With a total of only two movies (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Glory) considered good in the eyes of many, Matthew Broderick's career doesn't show much signs of upgrade with Peter Tolan's sleazy, anti-romantic comedy Finding Amanda.

A comedy writer for a television show has a keen desire to drink and gamble his life away, even when it means having to lie to his wife, steal checks, and lie some more. After two years of sobriety and already a victim to his gambling addiction, Taylor Peters (Matthew Broderick) vows to his wife that he will go to Vegas without spending a dime on gambling or having a drop of alcohol to urge his niece to go to rehab. Apparently, this is not as easy as it sounds.

From the mundane, yet quick-witted, delivery of Matthew Broderick's character to the smirky, degrading performance by Brittany Snow, I can't say this film is either funny or entertaining. It's rude, uneven, and far off the track of successfully combining dark comedy (something I am very fond of and enjoy immensely) and heavy melodrama.

Peter Tolan (writer of Bedazzled) directs and writes this hokey and dreary comedy set in unfamiliar Las Vegas casinos and nightclubs, which pours out a stream of laziness as it crawls its way to the credits. Is Finding Amanda really a bad movie? Yes, it's absolutely dreadful. The slow pace, stale characters, and insipid storyline prove it. The script does have some spurts of intelligence, but all of the clever lines are demolished by the deadpan delivery of Matthew Broderick. And what could've possibly been saved by a charming lead like John Cusack (who can save practically any movie from being a complete disaster) is simply unable to recover with subpar actors at the helm. Half of the problem is the script, the other half of the problem is poor casting and washed-up, battered down acting.

Another major defect in the film is its sudden and senseless ending. The film carries on an extra ten minutes leading to a conclusion that leaves one with a question mark floating around. What does it all mean? This is the type of ending that is an immediate let-down given that if ended it at the right moment, this would've been a grave recovery attempt. Trust me when I say that a poor movie can somewhat recuperate from its badness with an amusing end note, which this movie fails to provide.

Finding Amanda mindlessly descends into a truant attempt at making an event usually regarded as sober into a humorous matter. Never once does the film provide any humor that can be treasured as moderately amusing. This might be from the poor combination of drama , romance, and comedy, or possibly just bad filmmaking. When all is said and done, there is nothing marginally farcical about a man falling off the wagon.

Now for the DVD special features — are they really worth your time? Truth be told, the world premiere interviews with Matthew Broderick, Brittany Snow, and Peter Tolan are  much more amusing than the film itself. However, this doesn't help the film rise above the rank of being a giddy misfire and an unsatisfying journey into one man's problem land.

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