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Knots (June 8/05)

Featuring a hilariously sleazy performance from John Stamos, Knots is one of those small, direct-to-video comedies that will undoubtedly have to work hard to find an audience (it doesn't help that there's hardly any nudity in the film, a big selling point for movies of this sort). But it's clear that Knots has a whole lot more to offer than your run of the mill sex comedy, thanks to Greg Lombardo and Neil Turitz's smart screenplay and the better-than-expected performances.

The story kicks off with married couple Dave (Scott Cohen) and Greta (Annabeth Gish) moving into a new apartment, where Dave finds himself worrying about everything from mold to whether or not he's still in love with Greta. The latter quickly becomes moot, as Dave catches Greta in bed with another woman (the same woman that was hitting on Dave just days earlier, mind you). Meanwhile, Cal (Stamos) is making it his life's mission to sleep with as many women as possible - despite the fact that he's engaged to Emily (Tara Reid). Finally, there's Jake (Michael Leydon Campbell) - a good guy who just can't catch a break with the ladies.

Up until the point at which Dave discovers his wife is a closeted lesbian, Knots feels more like a tired riff on Woody Allen's flicks than anything else; because Dave spends much of the opening half hour in an Allen-inspired neurotic haze, it's virtually impossible to sympathize with the guy. Thankfully, this changes once Dave's relationship begins to crumble (now that we feel sorry for him, the character becomes a much more likeable figure). And while Cohen is actually quite good in the central role, there's no denying that Stamos' scene-stealing performance is the most enjoyable aspect of Knots. Cal, a jerk in his day-to-day life, becomes a completely different person when talking to a woman he wants to sleep with; the guy is essentially the sort of person one might imagine Trent from Swingers would've become.

Knots has been directed by Greg Lombardo (who also co-wrote the script with Neil Turitz), who imbues the film with a shaky, handheld vibe that's exacerbated by the typically muddy digital cinematography. But because the performances and screenplay are so effective, it becomes easy enough to overlook the film's visual deficiencies. And though Lombardo and Turitz occasionally emphasize broad comedic moments that could only exist in a sitcom (ie Dave's encounter with a Jack Black-esque process server), there are certainly enough positives here to warrant a recommendation.

out of

About the DVD: Maple Pictures presents Knots with a letterboxed transfer, along with a commentary track, six-minutes worth of bloopers, deleted scenes, and a series of bonus trailers.
© David Nusair