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No Small Affair (June 11/04)

Just about the only notable thing that No Small Affair has going for it are the cinematic debuts of several actors that would go on to much better things (ie Tim Robbins, Jon Cryer, Tate Donovan, and, uh, Jennifer Tilly). The film is an incredibly unmemorable romantic comedy hindered by the simple fact that neither of the two leads are likable in the slightest. Cryer, playing the sort of role Matthew Broderick cornered the market on in the '80s, is presumably supposed to exude sweetness and innocence - but Charles, his character, is more smog and obnoxious than anything else. Demi Moore, as his love interest, fares slightly better, though that's not saying much.

The wafer-thin storyline follows Charles, a 16-year-old aspiring photographer, as he develops a crush on a foxy singer named Laura (Moore). Laura's not entirely willing to return his affection, and seems happy enough to just stay friends with Charles. But when the young photographer takes a drastic step to help Laura's career, their relationship will never be the same.

It's hard to believe that No Small Affair has been directed by Jerry Schatzberg, the same man responsible for gritty films such as Panic in Needle Park and Street Smart. One can only assume he was looking to make a quick buck, because there's nothing here of any real substance; the superficiality of the film's screenplay emphasizes stereotypes over characters (ie Laura's lecherous boss, Charles' kooky mother, etc). And with noted cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Blow Out, Deliverance) behind the camera, one would at least expect something intriguing out of the film's visuals. The bland style, immediately noticable, gives the movie a straight-to-video feel - and seems to indicate that Zsigmond was in it for the money as well.

The film's lack of plot makes it virtually impossible to ever get into the story, as it often feels like a series of escapades loosely strung together by the two central characters. And since neither character is terribly compelling, the film never works as anything other than a springboard to better things for various young actors (this is true for Moore and Cryer as well, who would go on to St. Elmo's Fire and Pretty in Pink).

out of

About the DVD: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment presents No Small Affair with a remastered letterboxed transfer that's surprisingly decent, along with three bonus trailers (Jerry Maguire, Mona Lisa Smile, and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
© David Nusair