Don't get David Kulovic wrong. It's not that he's unhappy in his work, but the kind of attractive, available women he'd like to meet aren't interested in, well, plumbers. But movie directors, that's a different story. Or so David thinks.
"Pipe Dream," a smart, sweet and playful romantic comedy starring Martin Donovan and Mary-Louise Parker, shows what happens when David gets to live out his (and a lot of other people's) fantasies and pretend he's ace New York director David Copelberg (named after the only two filmmakers whose work he knows).
Set in Manhattan's independent film scene, "Pipe Dream" takes wry pleasure in poking fun at the mores of a business in which no one would even think of telling the truth, and in which rumor, evasion and small lies are the order of the day. And that's not the plumbing business either.
"Pipe Dream" was directed and co-written (with Cynthia Kaplan) by John C. Walsh, who made a small splash with his completely charming 1996 Sundance film "Ed's Next Move." The two films share Walsh's unmistakable sensibility, a gentle and unforced way of examining the vagaries of human behavior that is as sure-handed and insightful as it is understated.
Casting is key in films like this, and both Donovan, last seen in Christopher Nolan's "Insomnia," and the Tony Award-winning Parker are just what's needed for their respective roles. Parker's intelligent, confident performance is especially noteworthy because she gave it during the day while appearing on Broadway in "Proof" at night.
Parker plays Toni Edelman, an aspiring screenwriter who lives in the same building as the handsome plumber. They connect for a single night, but her chagrin at actually getting involved with someone so menial stings him so much that he decides to take corrective action and leave the invisible serving class behind.
With the help of RJ (Kevin Carroll), a casting director friend who owes him money, and some script pages he purloins from an unsuspecting Toni, David sets himself up as a director looking for actors and promptly develops a crush on tyro actress Marliss Funt (Rebecca Gayheart). Against all reason, and partly fueled by the rumor that Robert Redford is a silent producer, David's movie (also called "Pipe Dream") becomes quite the hot property, as does David, even though he's such a naif that he thinks questions about representation have to do with whose congressional district he lives in. Naturally, Toni gets wind of all this, and no end of complications ensue.
"Pipe Dream" manages to be funny about numerous aspects of moviemaking, from agentry to craft services, without losing track of its core notion that it's who you are as a person, not your position in the pecking order, that finally counts. Even glamorous directors could do worse than take that to heart.
MPAA rating: R for a sex scene. Times guidelines: some chaste scenes of lovemaking.
A Flowing Films production, released by Castle Hill Productions. Director John C. Walsh. Producers Sally Roy, Carole Curb Nemoy & Mike Curb. Executive producer Michael Zilkha. Screenplay John C. Walsh & Cynthia Kaplan. Cinematographer Peter Nelson. Costumes Elizabeth Shelton. Music Alexander Lasarenko. Production design Paul Avery. Art director Richard Burgess. Set decorator Tora Peterson. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. Exclusively at Loews Cineplex Beverly Center, Beverly Boulevard at La Cienega, L.A., (310) 652-7760; and Edwards Park Place 10, 3031 Michelson Drive, Irvine, (949) 440-0880.
Martin Donovan...David Kulovic
Mary-Louise Parker...Toni Edelman
Rebecca Gayheart...Marliss Funt
Kevin Carroll...RJ Martling