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Second Best (Unrated)

Release Date: May 27th, 2005 (NYC-Angelika Film Center)
The Cast: Joe Pantoliano, Boyd Gaines, Jennifer Tilly.

BASIC PREMISE: A middle-aged writer goes through a midlife crisis because he has not succeeded financially or romantically.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Joe Pantoliano's surprisingly very good acting is what really makes this movie truly fun to watch. Despite being a man of average looks, he has plenty of charisma and wittiness. The plot is very unoriginal, especially after another movie about losers called "Sideways". As much as it is tempting to make comparisons, every movie deserves to be evaluated on its own. The script does work to draw you into the plot because of the voice-over and because of the likeable characters. Also, there is a lot of unexpected humor and wit. It's as if Woody Allen wrote this script. Laughing at life has rarely been so much fun--as well as rooting for the underdog.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: This film has a lot of insight about life--including love, friendship, money, success, and happiness. All of these big issues are all connected in many ways. Many scenes make you think, "what is success?" or "what happiness?" and they never really answer it completely---but at least it makes you think about your own life. Many people would be able to relate to Pantoliano's character in at least some way. Fortunately, the brilliantly realistic script brings his character to life and makes him human--he thinks, he feels, he reacts. His performance is touching and heartbreaking at times--but what truly lifts your spirit is his character's warmth, big heart, and perceptive outlook on life.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable and unoriginal plot.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A superbly-written independent film with all the cynicism, dry wit and humor of a typical mid-life crisis film, but what makes it stand out is that it boasts a remarkable performance by Joe Pantoliano. Perhaps this film will finally make a star out of him--he deserves it.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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